Intentional flourishing, not just surviving
Yes, we are animals, and...
Predicting well, and stepping back far enough
What form might this take?
The questions we might ask
INTENTIONAL FLOURISHING, NOT JUST SURVIVING
Quiet, uninterrupted time, to step back and look at what we are doing and to see if it aligns with doing what works in life (= "doing the right thing).
This should be "ritualized", where there is a given time scheduled on a regular basis. And also we should schedule time when we identify something that needs reflection. In our journaling and in our planning and thinking ahead, we will see things that we had best reflect on, so that we are centered enough and decided enough to be fully intentional in our lives.
YES, WE ARE ANIMALS, AND...
As humans, we share 90% of our genes with other animals, so we have an animal part of us that we must accept and manage so that it doesn't do us harm.
The advantage we have is our higher brain, which is what gave us, ultimately, the greater ability to survive - and to thrive, if we choose to use that brain more!
When we reflect we can make intentional choices using logic and our values to guide us, instead of just using whims or the emotions of the moment.
We can decide the most crucial factor in life: who we want to be. We can, in making our choices, look at what the consequences are for the alternatives we can choose from. And the better we do that, the better our lives.
PREDICTING WELL, AND STEPPING BACK FAR ENOUGH
One glitch here is that we are poor predictors of what will make us happy and we also fail to look real solidly at the ill effects of certain tragedies. So, to harvest more from reflecting, one must build a decent knowledge and wisdom about life. We must learn what makes us happy and what doesn't. We must learn how our systems operate and what makes them perform the best for us, especially in managing the "animal" parts of us.
One of the biggest challenges is to step away and be objective enough and smart enough to look at our animal behaviors and not let them determine how we behave. We have to ask ourselves "what is right/" and/or "what would I do when I am my best?". (We might use a variation of this, that uses our ability to "surmise" something from observing or reading, where we ask the question "What would Gandhi do here?" Or Lincoln or a religious figure or whoever you choose.)
WHAT FORM MIGHT THIS TAKE?
Reflecting in a meditative fashion is just fine, but it is not sufficient. Putting things in writing and assuring that one finished what one starts (at least the major items) is also necessary. Driving it further along to completion will, in most cases, be enabled when one uses some of the Problem Solving forms (see list and choose which fits).
Journaling is the initial writing for most of us. It has its own benefits, but one major one will lie in identifying what to reflect further one, what to address in one's life that will have one feeling and behaving as one would wish in life.
Some of the related forms to journaling are also useful: the "Morning Pages" (quick writing without further thought at the moment, 3 pages)
In the direction of completion and planning, one would use the Problem Solving forms and fill in the key planning forms for one's purpose and values. The latter should be available in your Reminders Notebook, so you can refresh your memory and put it more on "top of the mind".
THE QUESTIONS WE MIGHT ASK
What were my thoughts and feelings in that situation today? (Should I look at it using a problem solving form to do so, so it is more complete?)
Am I headed in the right direction?
What do I really want in my life?
What are the consequences of my decisions and/or what I am doing? Should I change something?
Am I spending my time where it has the most value for me?
What are the fears or belief limitations that are holding me back?
What skills do I need to develop to have a better life?
What are my shortcomings? Can I accept those and put them in perspective, instead of being in denial or oblivious or numbed to them.
What did I do today that I might want to do more in my life?
What did I do today that I do not want to do anymore in my life?
Am I living my deepest values? Am I cultivating my best self?
Am I taking enough risks and putting enough variety into my life? (T.S. Eliot: "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.")
Am I treating others with acceptance, respect, kindness, compassion?
Am I serving others at the level that I want and/or is healthy for me?
Am I living my purpose?
What am I concerned about today? What might I reflect upon?
Managing Thought: p. 233: "What distinguished [Larry] Bird was self-awareness...reflected...adjust behavior...