1. "What's my to-go spiritual practice?"

This is a trick question. By asking it, what you're really saying is: "I need one. Now." For the night you hit a pothole in a creepy, dark mountain town and blow your tire. For the day you come home and find the freakishly huge tax bill. And, yes, even for the afternoon when you're looking out the window and witness a sunset the miraculous, oft-forgotten color of orange sherbet.

Maybe your practice is a gratitude mumble just before bed. Maybe it's a 10-minute-long meditation in your husband's closet, where nobody—not even the toddler—can find you. Maybe it's going to church. Maybe it's an idea that you hold inside you and repeat to yourself, like this one from Eckhart Tolle: "Stress is wanting something to be the way that it isn't." Because if you give up on hoping there's some way for a tire that's already lying in tatters under your car to reassemble before your eyes, you don't have to scream at everybody, "Be quiet! Mommy's freaking out!" You accept the tire is gone—and look for a spare.That is the thing about spiritual practices. Yes, they are about your spirit, but your spirit includes your mind, your mouth and your ability to focus sufficiently on how to operate a jack.

2. "How would my relationships change if I resolved never to lie again?"

"We have all been liars," says Sam Harris, PhD, in his book Lying. "And many of us will be unable to get into our beds tonight without having told several lies over the course of the day. What does this say about us and the life we are making with one another? How would your relationships change if you resolved never to lie again? What truths about yourself might suddenly come into view? What kind of person would you become? And how might you change the people around you?" Harris, by the way, is a neuroscientist and a philosopher. Perhaps the best response to these questions is his own—"It's worth finding out."

3. "What's in my zombie bag?"

As advised by government experts, your bag might contain canned food, a flashlight, a dust mask, a wrench and a hand-crank radio. But it is slightly more likely that you're worried about a hurricane or a flood than you are zombies. The sort of crisis you might fear, however, is not important for this discussion. What is, are the contents of the bag. So many of us worry that we don't know ourselves well enough. We wonder why we can see others so clearly but we can't see ourselves. A zombie bag will not completely solve this existential debate. But it will help. We are who we most are in times of crisis. For example, I live near a river. I have one thing in my zombie bag. It is a raft, which I will inflate, drop out the window, jump into, call for my kids and husband to jump into, also, then paddle us all to safety in. In my husband's zombie bag are copies of our birth certificates, social security cards, credit reports and the deed to our house. This is who he and I are in everything we do, state of emergency or not. He has the common sense. I have the dreamers-only plan of action (which includes our leap into the raft from the third-floor window).


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