This poem by 13th Century Sufi poet and professor Jalaluddin Rumi empowers us to think about and react to stress in an imaginative way.

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.

Activity steps
  1. Read the poem aloud, or ask a participant to read it aloud. 
  2. Walk through the The guest house handout.
  3. Work in pairs or small groups to explore the questions and art activity.
Reflect and discuss
  • How would you summarize the poet’s way of dealing with emotions? To what degree do you agree with the poet’s message? Why?
  • The poet uses the analogy of a guest house to describe the human condition. What other  analogies could we use?
  • The poet invites us to “be grateful” for our experiences. 
    • What does it mean to be grateful? 
    • How easy or difficult is it for you to feel grateful for your emotions? Why?
Get creative!

Which image(s) in The guest house resonate with you most? Draw or paint what you see in your mind. Or use art to represent your own analogy of human emotions.

Gratitude Challenge!

Gratitude has health benefits. Starting the day by thinking about or writing down the good things in life can boost our mood. Write down a few things you’re grateful for every morning for a week or two. Then reflect on its effects. Share your findings.