Reflection Leads to Deeper Learning...Put Each Day Up For Review

"I will keep constant watch over myself and most usefully will put each day up for review. For this is what makes us evil, that none of us looks back upon our own lives. We reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past." ~Seneca, Moral Letters

I have been reading a lot about the importance of reflection on our days happenings. Mentally replay your entire day and then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I behave according to my principles?
  • Did I treat the people with whom I interacted with in a friendly and considerate manner?
  • What vices have I fought?
  • Have I made myself a better person by cultivating my virtues?

The ancient stoic philosopher Seneca at the end of each day would ask himself variations of the following questions:

What bad habit did i curb today? How am i better? Were my actions just? How can i improve?

Reflection is an everyday process and can be a valuable way to help us not only review our lives and personal improvement but it also adds great value to crisis situations and our efforts to continually improve. The idea is to take some time to look inward and examine. We reflect on a range of everyday problems and situations all the time: What went well? What didn’t? Why? How do I feel about it? We don’t usually follow a formula for this, it just happens as feelings, thoughts, and emotions about something gradually surface. We might choose to do something differently, or not, as a result of reflecting, but reflection is essentially a kind of loose processing of thoughts and feelings about an incident, a meeting, a day—any event or experience at all.

Reflection is a type of thinking associated with deep thought, aimed at achieving better understanding. It contains a mixture of the following elements:

  • Making sense of the experience. We don’t always learn from experiences.  Reflection is where we analyze experience, actively attempting to ‘make sense’ or find the meaning in it.
  • Standing back. It can be hard to reflect when we are caught up in an activity. Standing back gives a better view or perspective on an experience, issue or action.
  • Reflection involves ‘going over’ something, often several times, in order to get a broad view and check nothing is missed.
  • Deeper honesty. Reflection is associated with ‘striving after truth.’ Through reflection, we can acknowledge things that we find difficult to admit in the normal course of events.
  • Weighing up. Reflection involves being even-handed, or balanced in judgment. This means taking everything into account, not just the most obvious.
  • Reflection can bring greater clarity, like seeing events reflected in a mirror. This can help at any stage of planning, carrying out, and reviewing activities.
  • Reflection is about learning and understanding on a deeper level. This includes gaining valuable insights that cannot be taught.
  • Making judgments. Reflection involves an element of drawing conclusions in order to move on, change, or develop an approach, strategy, or activity.
  • Reflection and learning. Reflecting on your learning, and as part of your learning, can help you take an objective view of your progress and see what is going well and what needs working on. Whatever form your reflection takes, it should initially involve you examining your feelings about an experience, then identifying areas to develop and starting to think about ways to do this.

The morning begins with questions and preparation. The evening concludes with reflection and analysis about how it all went. It’s a loop that, over a lifetime, makes us strong and resilient. In the end reflection helps us stay focused on the present and thinking outward at the problem instead of inward on searching for some school solution or all that might go wrong.

"Don't let your reflection on the whole sweep of life crush you. Don't fill your mind with bad things that might still happen. Stay focused on the present situation and ask yourself why its so unbearable and cant be survived." ~ Marcus Aurelius 

Stay Oriented!