It’s one of life’s great ironies that the more we learn, the less we know. When I was in my 20s, I was sure I knew everything I needed to know about life. I finally figured out, somewhere in my 50s, that I knew nothing in the grand scale of things. Learning is endless. But one of the things I did learn along the way is the power of reflection.
Reflection plays a part in my day, every day. The small pauses I take to reflect amid the bustle of daily life helps me keep sane, lowers stress, and increases the learning potential of mistakes I make. Reflection keeps me in the moment, helps me problem solve, and puts petty concerns in perspective.
If you haven’t made reflection part of your day, here are a few tips to get you started. Keep at it and you might notice big changes.
- Create a pause. Stop for a moment. Look around. Breathe in the deep blue sky. Imagine being as light and airy as one of the puffy clouds above. Then turn inward. Give gratitude that you’re alive, that you have work to do, reasons to get out of bed.
- Reflect on successes. What’s going well right now? What is the reason for the success? Relish the moment by celebrating inwardly. A fist pump in the air is permissible, if carried out with humility.
- Reflect on mistakes. What went wrong? What would have been a better response on your part? How can you prevent it from happening next time? What should you have said “ or left unsaid? Think on it, and then move on. Don’t dwell on mistakes, but do learn from the experience.
- Reflect on good times. New research in the field of positive psychology suggests that simply recalling happy memories can be almost as good for us as the moment itself. What’s more, nostalgia helps us get in touch with ourselves, boosts our memory, and provides us with perspective. So go ahead, let the good times roll through your head.
- Reflect while on the move. Stillness is not necessary for reflection. Some of my best reflecting happens during walks or jogs along tree-lined paths showcasing the beauty of the season. Physical activity helps still the mind and this is the stillness necessary for reflection. Appreciating my surroundings takes my focus off petty concerns and reminds me what’s really important in life.
- Reflect with music. Some prefer silence during reflection practice, but I like listening to soothing music. Music is one of my tools for relaxation. Just like physical movement, it stills my mind. Once this happens, the thought process opens and the mind is free to travel new avenues to new discoveries.
- Reflect while in the car. I’m spending more time than ever in my car as a one-way commute to school for me is now an hour. At first, I loved having this time to listen to books on tape, NPR, or simply grooving to the tunes. Now I turn off the radio and use at least one leg of the journey for reflection, which keeps me grounded. Surrounding ourselves with endless noise makes reflection impossible.
- Reflect throughout your day. Make reflection a recursive part of your day, rather than hoping you’ll have time or remember to do it at day’s end. Remember you don’t need the total silence or stillness of a monastery, nor do you need large chunks of time.
Here are two things to get your started right now:
Reflections of My Life by the The Marmalade is a hauntingly beautiful and sad song that was popular in the late 60s. Listen and reflect by clicking here: Marmalade – Reflections of My Life.
Keeping a journal helps many develop the habit of reflection, often by writing only one sentence a day. Try this in the comments section below by completing this sentence, Today I am filled with gratitude because __________________________________, or share any thoughts you have about reflection. I’d love to hear them!
Editor’s Note: Visit Candyce at her site, http://candycedeal.com.