We live in a hyper-connected world. There is always so much to do and so much to consume that it has become increasingly difficult for us to create any space and time for ourselves. We fear solitude thinking that we will miss on something ‘good’ out there. We are constantly seeking out things from social media, messenger groups, emails, and the Internet. Our society demands instant gratification, and we give-in to this pressure and end up living in a rut settling for a mediocre life. We choose competition over compassion, consumption over creation, and even at times greed over gratitude.
It’s because of this lifestyle that we have grown to believe is the right way to climbing the mountains of success we don’t pause and reflect on our journey – where we’re going, how far we’ve already come, what we’ve learned, and how much we’ve changed. We often end up with a tunnel-vision for our goals and keep doing the same things over and over again, without gaining much progress in our journey. There is a Peter Drucker quote, which says, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
Reflection is an integral part of our life. We are meant to reflect. It helps create meaning amidst all the chaos that surrounds us. It helps declutter our mind and replenish our resources. It throws the light of consciousness on all the information we consume, which helps us become the person we want to be. Reflection leads to wisdom.
But the brutal truth is that 90% of us don’t reflect and live their entire lives like a sloth on auto-pilot. We are all caught up in the busy-ness of our daily lives. We are swimming in a massive ocean of human beliefs, modalities, rules, ideas, constructs, and practices that are not conducive for personal reflection. Rumi said, “People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.”
My career in IT possibly gave me everything in life. What it did not give me was the time to reflect. And, over the years, after quitting my IT career and developing myself as a life coach, I have instilled this habit of reflection pretty deeply.
Earlier in the summer we were on our annual vacation to Germany. Amidst all the soul-stirring scenery and spirit-lifting culture of the country there were several moments for reflection, two in particular that I wanted to share with you.
The first one was when we were travelling from Berlin to Frankfurt on a Flixtrain. Flixtrain is a long-distance railway operator in Germany. Their brand color is mainly green, so all of their trains and buses are bright green in color. While we were traveling on this train and I was taking in all the landscape, I noticed all the other trains that went by were also green. I ignored the first one or two trains, but then after a few more passed us, I was a bit surprised and inquisitive to find out why all the trains in Germany were apparently green. As I moved closer towards the window when the next train was crossing us, it struck me that it was not the other train that was green, rather it was the reflection of our Flixtrain that I was seeing all the time. Because our train was green and it was reflecting green on the other trains, I thought all of the other trains were green too. And that moment got me reflecting on a universal principle – We see the world not as it is, but as we are. When you get this, you immediately start to respect everyone else’s view of the world, because it’s based on how they are and it’s right for them. As I went deeper into this, I also started reflecting on the premise that if I choose to see the world as a more happier and joyful place, would I be able to create that world for me. As author Barry Neil Kauffman said in his book Son Rise, “The way we choose to see the world creates the world we see.”
The second reflection that I want to share was when we were in Triberg, a Black Forest region. Triberg is famous for Germany’s highest waterfalls. As we drove up through the quaint town up to the main entrance gate and then continued our trail on foot, we could distinctly hear the roar of the Triberger Wasserfälle. Taking in all of the beauty and grandeur of the region was quite a sight for our eyes. The weather was pleasant and as we trekked closer to the falls, the only thing we could hear was the rush of the waterfall, quite deafening and then slowly fading away. My wife, Kavita, couldn’t help but comment something like, “This waterfall is really very beautiful and majestic, but it’s wasting its energy without appreciating the tranquility of the surrounding landscape.” As I paused and looked around, I realized that everything else, but the waterfall, was wrapped in this beautiful blanket of noiselessness and stillness. There was serenity everywhere around except for the rapid plunge of the waterfall over seven cascades seeming like trying to get somewhere. Later that night, back in our apartment, I took some time out to reflect. The thinking made me aware of this (waterfall) as a metaphor for how our (egoic) mind works. Our ego constantly denies the now, and is always in a state of lugging our past baggage through our now, or dreading about the future. While your ego may make you feel powerful, it creates an identity that is false. Because of its preoccupation with the past or future, it creates all this noise about your false identity, and keeps you out of alignment with the present, the now, in whatever way it shows up. That’s exactly what the waterfall represented for me. Please understand that I am not saying the waterfall is bad. It is a beautiful form of nature. It was only a metaphorical representation of the ego. This awareness of the ego was further deepened when I read Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now.
Did any of my reflections strike a chord with you? The main intention of my article is to inform you to slow down and take the time to reflect on things and areas in your life – your personal life, your professional life, your relationships, your experiences, your health and wellness, your values and your finances. Reflection makes you learn from your experiences and mistakes, it gives you better ideas, it makes you a better and wiser person opening you up to gaining different perspectives. As Vince McMahon said, “Sometimes you have to take a half step back to take two forward.”
If you haven’t yet, I will highly recommend that develop a daily habit of reflection. Start small, but get into the habit of reflecting and see the profound changes that it unfolds in your life.