The Ramchal was born in Padua, Italy in 1707 and passed away in Akko, Eretz Yisrael in 1746.
And in his book, Derech Eitz Chaim, the Ramchal advised investing 1 hour every day in hitbodedut, contemplating the following questions:
- Who am I?
- Why did I come into this world?
- What does Hashem want from me?
- What will be with my end?
- What did Avoteinu (Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov) do that made them so desirable to Hashem?
- What did Moshe Rabbeinu do?
- What did David Hamelech do?
- What did all the great leaders before me do?
So those are some things to talk about (or at least ponder in your mind) if you get stuck.
The Ramchal stated that the most important tool to maximize our potential & our connection to Hashem is taking the time for self-introspection.
Cheshbon hanefesh is a crucial component of this, so Rav Schwartz recommends discussing the following questions with Hashem:
- On Rosh Hashanah, I made a resolution to do X. At the peak of the Yomim Tovim I also reached a certain spiritual level.
- Have I succeeded in keeping my resolutions and maintaining an elevated level compared to last year?
- If not, what can I do to make sure I maintain this level and keep my resolutions?
Rav Schwartz acknowledges that while our Sages advised performing an accounting of ourselves every night, many people cannot manage this. So, in the spirit of many other rabbanim who recommend baby steps, Rav Schwartz suggests performing a chesbon hanefesh every 7-10 days.
This is a million times better than not doing it at all, or only doing it every couple of months. (And even doing it every couple of months can still reap you tremendous benefit. Remember: There are people who NEVER do a real cheshbon hanefesh in their entire life.)