We all know that introspection or self-reflection is a good thing. But we live in a society which hardly encourages us to reflect. This is a problem which has been going on for a long time because, in 1911, W. H. Davies wrote, “What is this world so full of care/We have no time to stand and stare.” Just imagine what he would think if he were alive today!
A Plethora of Screens
What with computers, iPads, cell phones and Kindles, every human being has their own set of distractions ready for them. And even if we’re not on one of these screens, we’re being bombarded by advertisements everywhere we go—bus stops, billboards, buildings, trains etc.
Unfortunately, this type of life has become normal for most of us and we can’t really get away from it. We can’t live like hermits because we want to earn money and make a living. Still, it should be possible to take time out and reflect from time to time.
Self-reflection can be achieved through mindfulness. This is not something that you need to do in a controlled way. You can just take a few seconds out from whatever you’re doing and hit pause. Look around you, listen to the sounds, pay attention to the thoughts going through your mind, feel the stiffness/alertness of your body or note how you’re feeling in that moment. Just become aware of what’s going on the world for a few seconds before going back to whatever you’re doing.
The results are often quite startling. You may find that, although you’re feeling irritable on the outside, you’re actually joyful on the inside. Or you may find the opposite. Either way, this gives you a mini break and food for thought.
If possible, be more than mindful. Take a break from work altogether. In his book When, Daniel Pink writes about the restorative power of breaks. The best type of break, he claims, is when you step away from work altogether and go for a walk in a place with many plants/trees. It’s even better if you do this with a friend and talk about something other than work.
Many writers and poets have written about the restorative powers of nature. So if you can get away from work, even for a few minutes and surround yourself with nature (even just a few potted plants will do) you’ll benefit from it.