"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." - Soren Kierkegaard*
I took this photo in 2009 while on a family vacation in British Columbia. We had been out all day, searching for humpback and fin whales: both had been seen migrating south for the winter. On our cruise back to the hotel, I caught my brother gazing back at the wake of the boat, losing himself in the ripples of the ocean. Maybe he was thinking about his career, what he would choose for dinner, or where the whales actually were - since we didn't see any that day. I didn't disturb him to find out. I could tell he was in a state of reflection.
Reflection is something that is overlooked in daily life. Unless we are relatively alone, on the ocean, staring into the blameless blue ripples of our seafaring vessel, we find it difficult and perhaps pointless to contemplate our actions. Why waste valuable time to essentially daydream when we have so many tasks that already occupy our time, and they only seem to increase as we get older?
Caught up in the daily "everything," we usually forget to listen to ourselves. Of utmost importance is slowing down and being with ourselves. It's good to pick the same time each day - I do this before I go to bed - to drift off into thought, and rethink actions and choices. Instead of merely thinking, you can choose to write in a journal, go outside, be in nature, or visit an art gallery. Art and nature are both very effective triggers for reflection, just so long as you are in quiet, contemplative solitude.
Questions to consider while reflecting: How am I feeling right now? What contributes to my happiness today? What am I excited about? What am I grateful for?
The benefits of reflection are boundless, since daydreaming and solitude have been meaningfully linked to increased mindfulness and creativity. Nicola Tesla - engineer, physicist and futurist - attested to this, saying "The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind." Faisal Hoque, author of Survive to Thrive, supports Tesla's claims about solitary reflection when he writes about the success of leaders and entrepreneurs, and how they are more able to "experience critical awakenings during self-imposed solitude."
Whether you are an entrepreneur, a physicist, or a blogger, your personal growth is born from reflection. If you make time to be alone and think about yourself, even 10 minutes each day, reflection can give you the courage to see the world differently, to see your life differently, and to commit to making the changes that you need to be happy. As the wise philosopher Kierkegaard* once said, even though life must be lived forward, it "can only be understood backwards."