Wednesday Wisdom by Dr. James Scott Wright

Thoughts on the journey, personal growth, and making a difference.

Reflect on Your Experiences and Create Meaning

We’ve been talking about mindfulness and the importance and benefits of living in the present and noticing those around you.  But does the value of intentionally making this effort just happen?  My feeling is that it does not automatically occur.  We must reflect on our experiences in order to create meaning.

So, for example, let’s say you are walking down the hallway on campus and notice someone standing in a corner weeping.  The easy and (probably) most comfortable thing to do would be to pass right by without engaging in the situation.  However, we are wanting to serve and maybe this is an opportunity to do just that.  So, you stop and ask, “are you ok?”  

Turns out, the student just failed an exam…the first ever failure for him, in his entire life.  He’s devastated.  You offer some kind words and a story about how you failed a lab report one time but how ultimately it all turned out ok.  He thanked you and you continued on your way.

Was value or meaning created in this moment?  Well, there was probably some immediate value for the distraught student.  He felt better about the situation knowing your story and that one failed exam doesn’t spell doom for the entire semester.  But what about value for you?  Is there a greater meaning for you other than a cool feeling that you paused your life in order to serve someone in need?

That’s where reflection comes in.  You must reflect on the event, what happened and why?  How did helping that guy make you feel?  What can you take away from that experience?  Maybe you realize that the few moments it took to stop and care for another person had many benefits for him and you both.  Perhaps you can recall when someone did something similar for you…a kind word when you needed it, a hug when you were down, or a conversation that changed your perspective on a situation in your life.

It’s the time of reflection that creates the meaning.  You think about what happened.  You ponder the results for him and you.  Maybe you journal some about how that made you feel.  In doing so, the likely result is the creation of meaning.  Reflection enables you to realize the significance of the action and to commit yourself to similar actions in the future.

The challenge for this week is to REFLECT AND CREATE MEANING.

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