"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives." ~ Henry David Thoreau
The annual ritual of looking back over the year-to-pass while looking forward to the year-to-come can be healthy but why must this brief moment of reflection occur just once per year? And why must this reflection be just a turning of the page? Reflection is too important to take so lightly, as if it were an occasion for entertaining ourselves or for making resolutions for the sake of making resolutions.
Reflecting is a simple meditative process of cleansing the mind of clutter and of turning down the noise of outside influence so that you may listen clearly to the inner self.
Reflecting is the most crucial activity for an individual’s overall well-being; it is the practice of stepping outside of and returning to the self; and it is the periodic meditation that maintains all of the greatest virtues, especially that of humility, patience and contentment.
Reflecting is the act of tapping on your own shoulder to be sure you are awake—to be sure you are alive—living a life of authenticity, meaning and purpose—being here now and not somewhere else, not wishing or wanting to be someone or something else other than yourself. In a sense, reflecting is not an ending or a beginning but may be better described as a perpetual beginning again. Every day and every moment is a new beginning; and every time you reflect, you begin again.
Quotes on Reflection
For a guide to reflection at this year-end, and to inspire ongoing reflection in your life, here are some quotes for forming your new reflecting habits:
The more developed reflection is, the more quickly it can collect itself; like a passport officer checking foreign travelers, it comes to be so familiar with the sight of the most fabulous characters that it is not easily taken aback. ~ Soren Kierkegaard
It's quite true what philosophy says, that life must be understood backwards. But one then forgets the other principle, that it must be lived forwards. A principle which, the more one thinks it through, precisely leads to the conclusion that life in time can never be properly understood, just because no moment can acquire the complete stillness needed to orient oneself backward. ~ Soren Kierkegaard
Every one rushes elsewhere and into the future, because no one wants to face one's own inner self. ~ Michel de Montaigne
Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd. ~William Wordsworth
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. ~ T.S. Eliot
Admittedly, I am aware of a certain weakness in me, in that I am unable to keep my attention fixed on one and the same item of knowledge at all times; but by attentive and repeated meditation I am nevertheless able to make myself remember it as often as the need arises, and thus get into the habit of avoiding error. It is here that man’s greatest and most important perfection is found… ~ Rene Descartes
Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more seriously reflection concentrates upon them: the starry heaven above me and the moral law within me. ~ Immanuel Kant
The perfect man uses his mind as a mirror. It grasps nothing, it rejects nothing. It receives but does not keep. ~ Chuang tzu
Ask not that events happen as you will, but let your will be that events should happen as they do, and you shall have peace. ~ Epictetus
Whenever I prepare for a journey I prepare as though for death. Should I never return, all is in order. ~ Katherine Mansfield
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success. So give as much care to the end as to the beginning; Then there will be no failure. ~Lau Tzu
As you reflect on the passing year, perhaps you may form only one resolution for the New Year--a resolution to continue reflecting every day...