When was the last time you had a substantial amount of time to yourself and by yourself? And I don’t mean binge watching Netflix or sleeping. Rather, I’m referring to a stretch of hours where all you had for entertainment, or someone to talk to was you, yourself, and thou. If you can think of a time, congrats! If not, don’t be too hard on yourself about it. In our current society with its insane schedules, iPhone addictions, and frenetic activity, quiet time for contemplation and reflection is seldom discussed or prioritized. (To be clear: I am not talking about meditation, although I find this to be of tremendous value as well; and something I practice daily).
In my opinion, Socrates got it right: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Without taking the time to be alone and even be bored (gasp!), we rob ourselves of the opportunity to let thoughts, feelings, and memories bubble to the surface of our consciousness. We miss out on vital cues from our body and heart, and we maintain the rat race that is 2018. Not to say that self-reflection is easy or enjoyable. Because, it’s not. There were countless times over the past five months where I found myself in fits of tears and anger as I confronted things about myself that I disliked and swam through deep wells of pain that I hadn’t realized still existed. But, it was entirely worth it. The hours I spent wandering around in foreign cities provided me not only with immense cultural enrichment but also a mental quiet in which to experience personal growth. Indeed, one of the most valuable takeaways from my entire trip, was the thing I least expected: having the much-needed time and space to reflect on the past ten years since I graduated college, and where and who I wanted to be for the next decade.
Before my extended traveling this past summer, self-reflection was something that I practiced infrequently and sporadically, but now it is something that has become a habit, thanks to my current lifestyle choices. I am alone when working from home; I take long runs and walks by myself, and enjoy luxurious baths where I let my mind wander. Other times, I lay in my bed or meander through museums and parks; all on my own, alone with myself. And those are the times when I experience epiphanies and have “light-bulb moments”, where I dwell on the things that I am grateful for, and, analyze if I am on the right path.
To be honest, if I had not created time for reflection, I’d still be working my corporate job, buying crap I didn’t need, wasting time on unproductive activities, and eating unhealthily. I found that change is possible, but not if one doesn’t even have the time to think about what needs to be changed. With that, I encourage you to to take ten minutes today and just sit with yourself and your thoughts. I can almost guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. Then, try it tomorrow. And the next day. You’ll slowly see how different and more fulfilling your life can be.
Let me know how it goes 🙂