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!

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  1. Dear Kathy - reflection is always good - for me it sitting quietly in the "presence of God" each morning. I call it my quiet time - prayer and scripture reading and just being aware of the Lord and His goodness. Great post Kathy. Have a lovely week. Hugs!

    1. A lovely way to start each day, Debbie. Hope you have a great week, too.