The 3 Most Compelling Reasons to Form the Habit of Reflection
Life is but moments that come and go before we even know it. And the older we get, the faster life seems to move. Where did the time go? Where did the days/months/years go? It all happens so fast; we barely can make any sense of it.
Some experiences make more sense than others. Some are more memorable, some are more pleasurable, and some are more painful. But all of them have one thing in common: after the experience, they all become the past, but they can remain fresh and ever so present in our mind.
How useful are these past memories to our present and future? How do we determine what to keep and what to leave behind?
The past is something we all grapple with. It’s part of our journey and growth. In most cases, we can’t make sense of a situation when we’re in the midst of it. We usually compound the confusion by jumping from one thing to the next, without intentionally taking a breather to pause and reflect.
What’s reflection, and why do we need it?
Reflection (contemplation, observation, review, examination) is the ability to stop and look back at an experience, or situation, to observe, process, and learn. It’s the space of stillness that allows to examine what’s happening in our lives.
If we don’t stop and look back to observe our experiences from a distance, we’ll feel confused, rushed, stressed, and unconsciously reactive.
Reflection is a simple process that packs a lot of power. If turned into a habit, it can be life changing. Let’s examine the benefits.
The top benefits of reflection
The first benefit is the foundation behind the subsequent two. The three combined will transform the way we think and act—from emotional and mindless reactions to calmer and more intentional actions.
1: An essential pause to make sense of our life
If we continue to move from one thing to the next, without stopping for a few moments to catch our breath, and assess our life, we’ll continue to run and react, until we burn out.
We need time to pause and make sense of our experiences. We need to breathe, and move forward with intention. Otherwise, we’ll feel exhausted, yet empty.
When we take an intentional break to look back at a situation, we create space between us and what happened (and what will happen next). In this break, we can recall an experience and observe ourselves.
The break of reflection gives us a fresh perspective. It brings us back to the reality of choice by stepping out of the conditioned hyper reactivity of constant motion. More importantly, it allows us to reap tremendous benefits: insight and closure.
2: Learning, insight, and wisdom
The accumulation of information, or experiences, is not what matters. The things that matter most—and add wealth to our lives—are the lessons and impressions we distill from each situation by reflecting (sometimes more than once) on the experience.
We need to review the situation, look at the details from a different perspective, and sum up the lessons and insights that can contribute to our growth.
3: Closure and letting go
Without reflection, we allow the past to define us. We reminisce about the good old days. But more frequently we relive the painful past, keeping the wounds fresh in our hearts and minds.
We can reflect upon the situation, and all the memories associated with it (pictures, emails, and all the physical or digital representations) till we can fully say goodbye with a loving and accepting heart.
We can make peace with any experience and let go of its emotional grip. This is one of the most effective ways to free ourselves from the shackles of the past. We don’t need to identify with our past mistakes, or triumphs. We only need to learn the lessons, and then move on to attend to the present moment.
Taking time to reflect does not mean we reject the present. Far from it, we embrace the present moment and use it as a space to intentionally learn from our past and integrate the lessons and insights into our daily life.
Reflection will enable us to live the moment with intention and appreciation—as it is—free from the burdens of the past.
When we stop to breathe into the life and experiences we’re given, we can step out of the personal and see the positive gifts and negative challenges for all they are—opportunities to learn and grow. We look at our lives and discern the important lessons. Once we examine an experience and realize that we got what we needed, we no longer have to hold on to it … we can let it go.
When we reflect and let go, we become wiser, lighter, and freer to be all we’re meant to be.