Reflection

No Time to Think? Why and How to Make Reflection a Part of Your Life

December 08, 2017



Despite the hoopla surrounding the holiday season, December is a great time to develop the habit of reflection. To reflect is to think deeply or carefully—a practice especially useful as we wrap up an old year and approach a new one.

But reflection is more easily discussed than practiced. The culture in the U.S. is not conducive to reflective thought. Instead, it’s devoted to making us too busy or too distracted by information overload to pause for reflection. (I don’t think it’s just me—but correct me if I’m wrong.)

In addition, reflection is sometimes uncomfortable. It can reveal to us areas of conflict, deep desires that have gone unmet, ways we fall short, things we’re afraid of. I guarantee that if we have a few minutes of thinking time, whatever problem we’re facing will pop up and demand attention.

Even though it can be uncomfortable, if we use our reflection time wisely we may be able to make some progress solving those issues that come to mind, rather than pushing them aside. We should be careful, however, that we don’t turn our reflection time into a way to beat ourselves up for not being and doing enough.

Reflection doesn’t always have to be about problem solving, of course. It can—and should—also be a time simply to think about what’s happening in our lives, what we’re grateful for, that great book we read, or some new thing we recently learned. Reflection gives us the opportunity to pay attention to our lives, rather than just living them.

Taking the time to reflect fosters growth, insight, and wisdom. We make connections between seemingly unrelated things, solve problems, and see new ways of approaching challenges. When we’re especially busy—like while we’re prepping for the holidays—it’s even more important to take time for reflection.

I’ve gotten out of the habit of making time to think, so I’m going to take my own advice and start making reflection a regular habit. If you want to join me, here are some simple tips that should help:

Schedule time for reflection. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, but it should be regular. Say every Sunday night from 8 to 8:30, for example.

Make space for reflection. A comfortable chair in quiet area is ideal. Or, if the weather permits, take a walk and let your thoughts wander with you.

Keep a notebook or journal handy. If you’re like me, you’ll likely have something to jot down.

What should we think about? Anything we want! We can let our thoughts drift, or we can make note of a question we want to ponder. We may want to think through a particular challenge, reflect on an experience, or some new thing we learned.

(One way to jump start your reflections is to use prompt questions. One of my favorite end-of-the-year tools can be found in this post on Sandra Pawula’s blog, Always Well Within.)

Do you have any tips for establishing a habit of reflection? Please share in the comments!

Confucius

The Noblest Way to Learn Wisdom

December 06, 2017

Photo by Josh Adamski on Unsplash

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
—Confucius


30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge: 2017 Edition

2017 Gratitude Challenge Recap

December 01, 2017

Yesterday was the last day of Positively Present’s 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. I’ve done this challenge four times now, and every year I learn something new about gratitude.

The point of the challenge, for me, is to become more aware of the large and small things I’m grateful for. So many times they get lost in the shuffle of daily living. I’m ashamed to say that I take many things for granted. (I also loved reading other people’s #Gratitude30 entries. We’re all so different, yet somehow the same!)

Here are a few of my favorite 2017 prompts (entries have been slightly edited to remove Instagram-ese):


Day 1 (Beauty): I didn’t have to go far to find today’s prompt… Just out my back door. Thanks to my husband, I have the backyard I’ve always wanted. I’m grateful for his efforts, and for the beautiful flowers that bloom nearly year-round in Florida.


Day 9 (Feelings): I used to be afraid that my feelings would overwhelm me. Then I started taking yoga classes and learning about meditation. I learned I could watch my feelings and thoughts, and that as long as I didn’t cling to them or push them aside they would simply…flow (like the ripples in this photo). Sometimes I write out my feelings, both to figure out what they are, and to help with the flow process. I’m grateful for the peace of knowing this, too, shall pass.


Day 14 (Challenges): Some of the best rewards in life come with a heaping helping of challenge. Like this guy here. Learning how to ride and care for a horse as an adult has been physically, mentally, and financially challenging, but worth every minute. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned from him and from all the horse people I’ve met along the way.


Day 17 (Memories): These photos were taken in New Orleans back in 2010, on a trip with Laure Ferlita, and they remind me of “les bon temps” we shared exploring that fascinating city. Oh, how I would love to go back to New Orleans. The food, the music, the people, the architecture…and did I mention the food?

Day 30 (Growth): 2017 has been a challenging year in many ways, and it forced me to grow, even when I’d have preferred to stay in my comfort zone. I hate to admit it (and this is not an invitation to the universe to send me adversity), but I’m grateful for the growth from those challenges. And I intend to keep growing like this little flower, blooming in a crevice between rocks.
What are you most grateful for in 2017?

Books

Happy Birthday, Louisa May Alcott

November 29, 2017

Louisa May Alcott is a heroine of mine—more because of the person she was than because of her writing (though I enjoy that, too). She was born 185 years ago today, and in honor of her birthday, here are two happiness-related quotes attributed to her:

“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”

“One of the sweet things about pain and sorrow is that they show us how well we are loved, how much kindness there is in the world, and how easily we can make others happy in the same way when they need help and sympathy.”

In 2013, my husband and I visited Orchard House, her family home in Concord, MA, pictured below. (I wrote about it briefly here.) 

If you want to know more about Louisa May Alcott, check out Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women. I’m currently reading Louisa May Alcott: An Intimate Anthology and enjoying it very much.

Are you a Louisa May Alcott fan? Which of her books is your favorite?


Black Friday Link Love

November 24, 2017

Rather than participate in Black Friday, my husband and I are enjoying a short break from the usual routine, and fighting crowds for bargains doesn’t qualify as “a break” in either of our minds. In case you’re off today and have a little time for some web surfing, here are a few fun and thought-provoking tidbits I’ve found online recently—no lines and no waiting:

I loved Positively Present’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide—there’s something for everyone on this list, and I guarantee you no one will return your gift. 

Doing nothing is harder than you think.

I found “How to Go from Discouraged to Empowered in a Scary World,” by Sandra Pawula at Always Well Within an encouraging read.   

Seth Godin on “Full vs. Enough.”  


Do To-Do lists work for you? If they don’t, you might want to try one of the other types of lists described by Gretchen Rubin in “The Surprising Truth About Why Your To-Do List May Be Failing You.” 

Don’t forget Giving Tuesday next week—it’s a good way to share with others, and in some instances, your donation will be matched. Click here to read about how that works.

I don’t think I’ve shared this before, but even if I have, it’s too good not to share again.

Have a happy Friday, Black or otherwise!




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