We are all learners, at any and every stage and role in life. We need to learn as students, learn as parents, learn as employees, learn as managers. The list goes on forever. One important thing is that reflection is the most important part of the learning process, and whatever is not reflected is usually not learned and retained. The only way for us to grow and improve is to take a good look at what’s working and what’s not for us.

“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” — John Dewey

At least once a day, and more often several times a day, I reflect and journal on my day, on my life, on what I’ve been doing right, and what isn’t working. I reflect on every aspect of my life, and from this habit of reflection, I am able to continuously improve. Oftentimes, I learn much more about myself unexpectedly. For example, I was reflecting on my fitness habits, and I realized some of my work was affecting my fitness habits, I think reflected on my work as well. I was able to come up with a change than affected both of my fitness and work aspects positively.

Why should we reflect?

Great question to ask. We may all have a different answers because every one of us is so unique. However, I believe the fundamental reason is because deep reflections really empowers us to gain self-awareness and to improve and become better humans.

Benefits of reflection

1. It helps you learn from your mistakes
We are on route to repeat our mistakes and failures, if we don’t reflect on our mistakes and failures. We can be smarter and choose to reflect on those mistakes and failures, figure out what went wrong, see how we can prevent them in the future. Mistakes and failures are valuable learning tools because we can use them as stepping stone to get better, instead of something to feel embarrassed or upset about. Reflection is an important way to do that.

2. It gives you great ideas
Every blog post so far are from my reflections. I reflect on things that I am currently doing or that are going on in my life, and share my learnings and reflections in the articles I write. If I reflect on something that works well for me, I think about the “why” behind it and share that too. Same goes with my failures and mistakes. I look forward to grow together with my readers.

3. It helps you help others
I realized by reflecting upon myself, I have gained a lot of insights which I find it may be a valuable learning experience for others as well. I can share what I’ve learned to help others going through the same things. I began the year with the hope that some of the things I’ve learned in the past couple years can help others. Only two weeks into my blogging career, I have people telling me how little tips, like how to wake up early, or how to start the exercise habit, have changed their lives. It’s an amazing feeling. I’m simply humbled that I could help people or/and inspire them.

4. It makes you happier
When we reflect on the things we did right, the things and relationships that we have, it allow us to celebrate on the little things and little successes in life. It allows us to realize how much we’ve done right, the good things we’ve done in our life and empower us to do even more. Without reflection, it’s too easy to forget these things, and focus instead on our failures.

5. It gives you perspective
Oftentimes we are caught up in the troubles in our busy daily lives. A mistake, a failure, a stressful project or anything similar can seem like it means all the world. It can be extremely overwhelming. However, if we take a minute to step back, and reflect on these problems, and how in the grand scheme of things they don’t mean all that much, it can calm us down and lower our stress levels. We gain perspective, and empower us to focus on what’s more important to us.

6. It helps you understand yourself better
When we reflect, we are having conversations with ourselves. Those self conversations are a great way to understand ourselves better. We can gain more insights of ourselves to further learn about our strengths, weaknesses, fears, and might even discover something unexpected.

How to do it?

Here comes the fun part. How should we actually reflect? I may have a different method and approach from you, and I’d love to share mine as a guideline. You are more than welcome to follow and/or even build your own reflection method.

I usually set aside some time at night after my bedtime reading, and think over the events that happened that day, think about the people I met that day and the interactions I had with them. I would ask myself one simple question and journal down my answers. “If I were to re-live today again, what 3 things would I change to make today better?” and from that question I may continue onto deeper reflective questions as follows.

1. Did I live up to my core values and personal mission today?
2. Did I be a person others can respect today?
3. Did I respect my body the way I should today?
4. Did I make a positive impact on the world today?
5. Did I perform at my best today? 
6. Did I have negative emotions today? Why?
7. Did I use my time wisely today?

Furthermore, think about the reasons behind the answers to the above questions to explore and gain more insights about yourself. When you’re able to learn more and more about yourself, you have harnessed the power of reflection!

More deep reflective questions can be found here.

I recommend and challenge with great love and respect that you develop the daily habit of reflection, in your own way. It will have profound changes on your life. Let me know how it goes!

With great love and respect,

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Rybo Chen is an engineer by profession and a self-help enthusiast by passion. He is an aspiring blogger looking to share his thoughts and ideas one article at a time and hoping to help people along the way. More of his writing can be found at medium.com/@rybochen.

Originally published at medium.com