In this series of blog posts I attempt to translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English. In Letter 16, he discussed the importance of regular reflection. Then acting on what this reveals.
Benefits of Reflection
- It makes you happier. If you reflect on the things you did right, on your successes, that allows you to celebrate every little success. It allows you to realize how much you’ve done right, the good things you’ve done in your life. Without reflection, it’s too easy to forget these things, and focus instead on our failures.
- It gives you perspective. Often we are caught up in the troubles or busyness of our daily lives. A mistake or a high-pressure project or something like that can seem like it means all the world. It can overwhelm us sometimes. But 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 that’s a good thing.
- Focus on the present. Now that you’ve reflected on the past, realize that the past is over. It isn’t happening anymore, except in your mind. And that causes problems — unhappiness and stress. Instead, bring your focus back to the present moment. What are you doing now? What joy can you find in what is happening right now? Find the joy in life now, as it happens, and stop reliving the past. You will inevitably start thinking about the past, but just acknowledge that, and gently bring yourself back to the present moment.