The other day, I was talking with someone about taking some time to do some reflecting. You know, the kind where you sit there and just think, without regard to anything else going on. I think it’s important to do that every once in a while, but apparently the person I was speaking to thought differently.“You must have a lot of time on your hands!” they said.
This statement struck me, and it wasn’t because I was offended by it. It was because it summed up in one statement the messed-up attitude toward life we tend to have here in North America. What that statement said to me was that, for me to have time to reflect, it must mean that I have nothing else going on in my life. The reality is that it’s exactly the opposite.
For the longest time, I worked full-time, attended school at night while I completed my MBA and went to karate three days a week, all while planning a wedding and running a local Toastmasters chapter. I don’t have time to reflect because I have nothing else going on, I make time to reflect because I usually have too much on my plate, and it gives me a way to pause and cut through the constant go-go-go. If I didn’t do it, I’d burn out! But others often assume that reflection is this nice-to-have concept that’s out of reach for the busy among us.
More and more these days, I feel like this is typical of us. We move too fast and try to accomplish too much all at once, with the net result being that we get a lot done, and fail to appreciate any of it. We fail to consider how we’ve changed over the years, or whether the path we’ve been traveling on is the one we really want to be on. We push for more money, more things, more whatever, not realizing that we don’t need any of that in order to be happy. How else can you explain how, when you travel to other, materially-poorer areas of the world, you see and meet happy locals all over the place? They don’t have what we have materially, yet they’re richer than I’ve ever been in my adult life. Hmm.
The thing is though, this kind of realization is part of why I reflect. It comes as a result of that process. Reflecting and pausing aren’t things you should do only when you have nothing else going on. The more you have going, the more important it is to make time for those things.
Wrapping it Up
Obviously, the title of this post isn’t true. But I’ll tell you what, I sure am working toward making it true. The more time I have to breathe, pause and reflect, the better, because that’s when you find your mind naturally centering on what’s truly important: your relationships with the people around you, with nature. Your shared experiences, and the memories you make for yourself. You naturally begin to ask yourself questions about what you’re pursuing, and why. These things matter; everything else is just secondary. I hope you’ll take some time to reflect on that, and I promise I won’t presume you have too much of it on your hands.