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Monk Notes 21 - Why We Avoid Reflection and Favor Action (To Our Detriment)

There is a very specific reason we often avoid taking the time to reflect:
When we reflect, it doesn’t feel like we’re doing anything.

For many of us, doing is the most basic way to assert control. When we’re doing, we feel a sense of power over our circumstances. We can identify something that we’d like to be different and change it; we see our action affecting our environment.

When we’re reflecting, we’re actually not in control. If we truly give ourselves the space to explore some uncharted territory in our mind, there’s no certainty that we’ll arrive somewhere expected or comfortable. And even if we’re reflecting on a very basic and predictable aspect of our life, like which parts of the day were enjoyable, there’s no sense of accomplishment. We’re not enacting our will to accomplish anything. Reflection is an utterly powerless position.

In fact, reflection often brings us to a greater awareness of just how little control we actually possess.

When we step back and consider the bigger picture of our life and our actions, we begin to notice how small our domain of control is, and how many things are beyond it. Reflection can cause us to see just how small we are and how little our actions actually affect the world beyond ourselves. It can bring us to a properly humble perspective of our life.

Although these kinds of insights can be uncomfortable at first, the fruit of ongoing reflective practice is actually greater peace. As we identify the true limits of our power, we can begin to focus our energy on the parts of life that we can affect and happily let go of those that we can’t control.

​Reflection can be a difficult exercise in surrendering control, but when practiced regularly it can free us from our own need for control. And paradoxically, we may end up with a deeper and truer sense of control.

All the best,

Steven Lawson

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?

- Henry David Thoreau


How Geniuses Think - The Creativity Post

When we think of someone coming up with an idea, it can often be depicted as a spur of the moment flash of genius that came out of nowhere. While that can be something that occurs every once in a blue moon, this is not the case for the vast majority of "genius ideas." The reality, as Michael Michalko explains in this piece, is that more often than not these next level ideas are actually the result of in depth reflection.  LINK

28 Ways Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life -

In addition to the reflection prompts in the Monk Manual, many people find a helpful structure for reflection through journaling. Read through this list of reasons others find journaling to be a simpler way for them to reflect and ask if it may also be something you would find beneficial.  LINK

The Brain, Learning, and Reflection - Experiential Tools

We've spent this past month focusing on the concept of reflection and its benefits, and in that time you may have asked yourself what exactly about reflection causes these positive changes. It turns out there's a lot, so if you're interested, this post by Jennifer Stanchfield will be right up your alley.  LINK

Featured Art: The Kutenai Duck Hunter, Edward S. Curtis (1910)