Reflection is something I do a lot of – I have for many years quite regularly in my daily or weekly goings on. At certain holiday times and other milestones every year, I reflect on my year and perspectives at that snapshot in time: my thoughts, what’s important at the time, my relation to people in my life, my work – purpose, where I want it to go and how I contribute in the larger scheme of things.
A few months ago I came upon a small article in the Wall Street Journal reporting on studies indicating that reflecting on the positive at the end of each day significantly reduces stress for workers. Well, that’s another persuasive reason for regular reflection. Stress reduction – what a gift!
As far as I can tell, the time people of all ages spend on reflection has decreased and stress has increased. At least a loose connection would not be surprising. Our lives have undoubtedly become more stressful, and the popularity of yoga and meditation has not made a big dent in it overall.
We are besieged by:
- More work with less time to do it
- Too many choices
- Economic challenges
- The seeming need to be connected – always on
- Complex relationships that don’t get adequate attention
- Rapid change
- Technology breakdowns and glitches (my personal big stress button, second to health issues)
All of these stressors add up.
People have little time to reflect. The younger generations (to generalize) never seem to have developed the reflection habit. What they’re missing are the benefits of processing in their minds and bodies the implications of what has occurred and, as much as is in their control, to devise solutions and action plans.
Reflecting on positive achievements, even small ones every day, leads to good feelings. The reflection/stress study coauthor Theresa Glomb of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management said, “The real impact comes from writing down why those things – the good things that happened – led to good feelings.” That sounds like a positive accomplishment in itself – a stress-busting habit we need to train high school and college students to adopt.
To add one more piece of ammunition, when asked what career advice he would give to a class of graduating students, Daniel Lubetsky, chief executive of KIND Healthy Snacks, related this in an interview with Adam Bryant for his “Corner Office” New York Times column: “Make sure that you talk to yourself, that you think hard about what is important to you and gives you meaning. When I was nineteen and walking between classes, I didn’t have a phone, so my brain would take me in all different directions. . . . But nowadays, we’re on our iPhones all the time, and you don’t have time to talk with yourself, to analyze. . . . It’s very important for people to know what gives them meaning. But it’s hard for people to figure out if you are not connecting with yourself and taking the time to just be introspective and daydream.”
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