It is reported that today people are more inclined to reinvent themselves. And, interestingly and encouragingly, this newfound zeal to improve one’s personality is said to be not constrained by age, gender, given situation etc. A recent survey published in Psychology Today reveals that about 78% of people — at average age from 18 to 70 — want to change a fundamental aspect of themselves — to be specific, they want to move towards the positive, and be more open, and more agreeable to the people around them.
Now, if you are one among those, I have something interesting to share with you. Recently I read an article written by Dan Coughlin, an executive coach from the US, in which he suggested that at the end of every week one may sit for a while and think about all that one did/said in the whole of the week with ‘reflection’ and ‘discernment’, for such an exercise has a tremendous potential for making one a better person.
True, it is always pretty inconvenient to have an appointment with oneself for introspection. But if one wills it, sure, it will become a routine! And it is not that difficult even. To begin with, you may put your life on pause for a while, just sit quiet, take a deep breath and reconnect with yourself. Once you feel being with yourself, reflect on the week that just passed off by putting a straight question to yourself: “What happened in the whole of the week?”
As you thus reflect on the week that just passed off — as you thoughtfully look back at your experiences — with the question: “What happened?”, you are likely to end up with a kind of result that may sound similar to the undermentioned:
- Some of your acts — what you did/said in the week — may sound quite pleasing.
- Some may turn out to be rather neutral i.e., you don’t see good or bad in them except that something had just happened.
- Some deeds pop up as wrong or you feel you did them poorly.
Now, according to Coughlin this outcome — classification of past deeds into good, neutral and wrong — can be used as learning-points for one’s future conduct. Of course, it would not happen on its own. Obviously, one has to apply himself to glean learning-points from the said weekly exercise and importantly put them to practice on the following lines:
- Pick all those actions that are identified as pretty good and examine how they could be repeated again and again in the future.
- Coming to the second result i.e., neutral, one need to analyse them as to how one can make them better in the future and conduct accordingly.
- Moving to the last category of the act/s noticed as wrong, one should question oneself as to what one should do to make it right next time? Here, what is more important than analysing why an act had gone wrong and how to make it right next time, is: accepting the very wrong committed by himself/herself. For, once the wrong is accepted, it enables one to straight go to the person effected by one’s wrong deed and say something to the effect: “I am sorry, it’s my fault. I sincerely apologize for whatever harm I would have caused.” And such act alone makes one a better person, Isn’t it? Secondly, such acts pave the way for guarding oneself from the repetition of such wrong deeds.
Thus, there emerges from this simple reflection-question — “what happened?” — two benefits to its practitioner: one, he/she could see one’s actions as they really happened rather than how one had wished they had happened; and two, use the outcomes as learning points for future conduct.
Next, as a sequel to this reflection, one has to take up ‘discernment’ as the next exercise. Discernment is nothing but going deeper into what has happened with the question: “Why did it happen?” This question takes one to the very root of one’s past deeds. A focussed meditation on this question i.e., “Why I did it?”/ “Why I said it?” throws open new insights that might have not struck to mind when one actually did it. Such an exercise is sure to bring out something highly insightful. For, it explains the underlying ‘why’ of one’s wrong deeds. And once, the underlying dynamics of wrong doing are deciphered it becomes that much easy to guard oneself from their recurrences.
True, this new knowledge cannot be used for correcting the past deeds, but can certainly be used to better one’s future performance, isn’t it? Yes, it can be, provided one is willing to put the new knowledge into practice. Which is why, we should strongly determine to put every such learning into practise. Then only the whole exercise becomes meaningful. Such constant acquisition of new knowledge and willingly putting it to use in our day to day transactions with the society is sure to make our lives better than yesterday.
That said, I must, at the cost of repetition, draw your attention to the fact that it is always pretty inconvenient to have an appointment with oneself for reflection and discernment. But once put to practice, the experience of the benefits flowing out of such an exercise is certain to make one to go all out for it. Nonetheless, it must be remembered that a sustained practise alone enables one to lead a better life. So, why late, “Begin afresh, afresh, afresh” and don’t forget to make it a weekly affair.