Many of us, for one reason or another, make resolutions for the New Year – habits we want to break or begin, things we want to do, people we want to meet, skills we want to learn, and so on. Whether or not we actually keep these New Year resolutions is a completely different affair, of course, as many a busy parent can testify!
This season of year-end is typically a time for reflection, to celebrate milestones, recount blessings and regrets, and set goals for the New Year. Taking stock of where we are now and where we have come from is a meaningful activity we can do as an individual, a couple, or even as a family.
If you have managed to carve out some space for reflection this year end, we say good for you! Write it all down somewhere, so that you can look back on your journey as a person days, weeks, months, years down the road. In fact, let’s push the envelope a little further, and suggest that we make this exercise of reflection a part and parcel of our daily life.
Some may think that times of reflection are just a meaningful emotional exercise or a mental listing of memories for posterity’s sake. But in fact, having the space and commitment to reflect on a daily basis can be life-transforming for you.
Reason 1: Reflection helps us grow in self-awareness
Only by much searching and mining are gold and diamonds obtained, and man can find every truth connected with his being if he will dig deep into the mine of his soul.
~ James Allen
Life, and all its busyness, sweeps us along in its current from day to day with nary a moment to be still. But it’s only in the stillness, and in considering the outcomes of our attitudes and actions that we can truly begin to see ourselves for who we are.
Reason 2: Reflection allows us to learn from our mistakes
We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.
~ John Dewey
As human beings, it’s easy to take a failure as “Oh, I’m no good at that kind of thing” or “I’m not a people-person”. We seldom consider “why” we failed a particular test or offended a person or messed up a project. But that is precisely where real learning occurs.
Reason 3: Reflection teaches us to let go and forgive
People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.
~ Mevlana Rumi
We are quick to blame and judge others, but reflection puts the spotlight back on ourselves, to see our part in the problem. Not only that, reflection helps us to realize that there are almost always several factors that contribute to an issue, and to recognize not just the bad, but see the good as well. And in recognizing that we are all imperfect beings, we are better able to let go of and forgive past hurts.
Reason 4: Reflection reminds us to be thankful
No matter how bad you think your life is, wake up each day and be thankful for what you have. Someone somewhere is fighting just to survive.
To reflect is not an exercise in self-pity. Conversely, as we consider our lack and limitations, we should also be reminded of the sufferings and burdens of so many others around the world, and take stock of all that life has blessed us with.
Reason 5: Reflection empowers us to chase our dreams
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
~ Leo Tolstoy
So many dreams go unrealized simply because we haven’t had time to really think about them, much less make them happen! Sometimes a dream can seem insurmountable because it’s so beyond our reach, but if we would reflect upon it and commit time to dwell on making it happen, we could take it step by step, one bite sized chunk at a time. And before you know it, one fine day, that dream could become a reality!
By Dorothea Chow