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The actress turned executive producer—look for her new educational children's DVDs, Little Angels—loves scuba diving, and always uses her fancy china.
1. There's always time for tea.
Growing up in Ireland, when my family received important news, good or bad, we would boil water and make tea. It was the first thing I did when my father died in 1984. This ritual allowed me a moment to take in the enormity of what had happened. Pausing between stimulus and response allows you to show up in your life.
2. You can make a habit of gratitude.
Each morning when I march to the loo, I say thank you to remember how appreciative I am of everything that brings me joy. It's useful to anchor this profound feeling to a little human moment.
3. Sometimes we're capable of more than we know.
Before my husband [reality TV producer Mark Burnett] taught me to scuba dive, I'd never thought of myself as an ocean person—I didn't even like to get wet! But he can sell ice to Eskimos, my guy, so he coaxed me into it. Forty feet down, holding his hand, I felt awed by the coral reefs and sunken ships that opened up before me.
4. The same moon shines on everyone.
Before I left home for drama school in England, my father took me outside one night and told me that wherever I was, the moon would shine on both of us. Months later, walking in London, I'd look at the moon and feel his love. Now I've shared the ritual with my own kids. When I travel, the moon reminds us that we're never as far apart as it may seem.
5. Treat every day as a special occasion.
I have a memory of my mother kneeling in front of a cabinet in our home, tenderly cradling her wedding china. We never used the plates; she died in her 40s without ever letting herself enjoy these gorgeous pieces. I told myself that I would use my precious items. Now my family drinks tea from the china cups I inherited from my mother.
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From the March 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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