Being able to reflect on your actions is key to reducing stress and prompting positive change in your life. The lack of reflection in your life can be likened to chewing—but not swallowing. The food is tasted, but unless digested, there is no nutritional value. That’s because no one really learns from an actual experience. It is the reflection about the experience that generates learning.
The human brain is a meaning-seeking organism, and because much of what we are exposed to happens so fast, we need time to process, to internalize its meaning. In addition, the brain continues to process information long after we are aware of it. This is the reason why many of our ideas seem to “pop out of the blue.”
Reflect on your actions is important for all ages, not just adults. Here is an effective reflection technique for kindergarten teachers that was shared with me by Jane Bluestein. It ranks as one of her favorites.
Reflect on Your Actions – A simple strategy for youth
Jane walked into a kindergarten classroom and noticed that there was a student talking to a large poster/picture of an elderly woman on one of the walls.
When asked about it, the teacher said, “Oh, that’s Mrs. Murphy. My kids know that when I’m too busy, they can talk to Mrs. Murphy. Half of the time when I approach the student and say, ‘I’ve seen that you talked to Mrs. Murphy. Is there anything you want to share?’ The response is, ‘No, we worked things out.’”
The key of course is a constructive outlet to engage in reflection. As Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s partner) tells the famous story, “If a smart person goes into a room where an orangutan is eating a banana and explains whatever is troubling the person, the orangutan just goes on eating the banana. At the end of the conversation, the person comes out smarter.”
Do you take the time to reflect on your actions? How are you using reflection in your daily life to reduce your stress? To make positive changes? Give reflection a try, and teach the process to the youth in your life. It is a key skill for long-term success.
Teaching, parenting, and simply living can be stressful at times. That’s why I wrote my newest book Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. If you’re looking for stress management advice, check it out. The book is available as a print book (Buy one and get a second copy free to give as a gift) and as a Kindle download.