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The Art of Self-Reflection

We can make our lives more enriching and meaningful by practicing basic reflection techniques.

A way to enrich one’s life is through a regular practice of self-reflection. Reflection when done after every new experience or even after daily work helps create a conscious awareness of that experience that results in the formation of new neural pathways for faster learning. Being detached from the process and behaving like a silent observer standing in the corner, we open ourselves to unbiased and deeper insights into the experiences that we had in the day. It creates a possibility of improving ourselves from one day to the next as we try to do the same things differently and with a different lens and perspective.

There are multiple ways of reflecting- writing in a journal, silently sitting with eyes closed which is akin to meditation, walking slowly with the objective of introspection, talking to a close friend or family member whom we trust and many other similar ways(It clearly depends on the person). Since I love to write and blog, it’s natural for me to reflect by maintaining a journal where I pen down answers to some pretty basic and straightforward questions such as- which strength of mine did I show today and how?, how could I have done it(any work or activity) differently?, how did I achieve my goal for the day?, what is my goal for tomorrow?, what is the one thing I want to do differently tomorrow?, what all am I thankful for and why? Asking these questions makes me more self-aware about my own strengths as well as areas of opportunity. Responses to these questions are like promises made to self and I try to follow every response with a fitting action the very next day. Doing this activity every day without fail keeps me on track with the vision that I have set for myself and I always feel confident and in control of my day.

Self-reflection basically gives us an opportunity to pause and look back so that we can look ahead with more passion and vitality. It reinvigorates the purpose of our very being and replenishes our energy reserves with positivity and a clearer sense of direction. For instance, when I was in my previous job as a Certification Engineer, I reflected very deeply one day but really couldn’t figure out where I was going with my life and I couldn’t really see the purpose of doing what I was doing. That day I looked back and tried to make connections between my strengths and the things I am required to do at work. I got an insight that was really disheartening and frightening at the same time. I realized that I was not working to my fullest potential and I was also not making use of any of my strengths- such as excellence, continuous learning, scientific research and so on- that defined me as a person. Digging a little deeper, I understood why I had been stuck at the same place and it was just because of that large pay check I got at the end of each month. I could clearly see that I had already wasted so much of my time and that it was high time for me to find something which ignites my passion, which drives me towards my real self. I decided to call it quits and started to explore that ‘something’. 

I did all of this fruitful thinking over a period of one week through constant self-reflection and self-critique. All I needed to do now was to follow up this line of thinking with a well reciprocated action and I did that too. Eventually, I quit my ‘well paying’ job and moved to a very humble yet very enriching leadership role in an NGO. If done the right way, reflection- like a Guru- can answer deeper spiritual questions and set us on the right path, a path that holistically defines the very core of our identity.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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