Let's face it — whether you consider yourself religious or not, doing good usually makes you feel good, and we all know that the world needs more forces of positive change these days.
So what can one do to prepare oneself for positive change? How does one learn the art of reflection? Here are some steps you can take, described as the “5 D’s”:
1. Disconnect. Modern technology nowadays keeps us constantly connected to others — with just a few clicks or swipes, we are instantly updated on the latest happenings in the world. Although this can be a good thing at times, it can also be detrimental, especially if keeping up with social media updates keeps us from what’s really important in life.
To change for the better, let’s challenge ourselves to disconnect from our gadgets and connect — really connect — with what matters most. For a lot of people, this could mean connecting with God through prayer, and connecting with their loved ones through meaningful bonding moments. Take it a little bit further and connect with yourself too. Take some time to be alone and reflect on your life, to reassess your goals and map out your life dreams. You’ll find that once you are ‘in tune’ with yourself, it will be easier to make positive changes in your life.
2. De-stress. Over-scheduled, hectic days full of deadlines and endless to-do lists can take a toll on our lives if we’re not careful. In fact, many health conditions such as heart diseases, asthma, diabetes, headaches and accelerated aging — to name a few — have been linked to stress. All of us probably have experienced this too: when you are stressed out, your relationships suffer — and that is definitely not a good thing.
Take a step to more positivity in your life by saying no to stress and saying yes to relaxed, stress-free (or less-stressed) days. You can do this by listing down your core values, priorities and goals, and making decisions based on these.
It may also help to go on a recollection or retreat of sorts, or even just spend a few hours in a place of your preference, like a spa for a relaxing massage, outdoors for a stroll with your spouse, your favorite coffee shop for a chat with friends, or a place for reflection. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it helps you to get rid of stress, not add to it.
3. Discover. When we are so caught up in the busy pace of our lives, we tend to stress and focus on negative things. The key then is to find out what the ‘good’ in our lives is and focus on it.
We must learn to discover what blessings we have — even when we are weighed down by burdens such as financial problems, or problems within the family — and focus on them. Renowned author and inspirational speaker Bo Sanchez often writes about this in his books: “What you focus on, grows.” So if you want more love, more positivity, more blessings in your life, focus on the love, positivity and blessings that you already have and you want to have in the future. Our thoughts are very powerful, as Sanchez states in his book How to Turn Your Thoughts into Things. So if you desire positive change, think constantly about everything positive.
4. Declutter. There is a tendency nowadays to have the “I want more” mentality. Let’s face it — we, and sadly our kids too sometimes, often give in to the desire to buy this or that, even if we don’t really need to. When our lives are ‘cluttered’ with so many material things, it’s often more difficult for us to grasp what Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in The Little Prince: “It is only with the Heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Let us take the opportunity then to remove unnecessary clutter from our lives — starting with the ‘physical’ clutter in our homes but not forgetting the ‘intangible’ clutter in our hearts and minds. Decluttering is a continuous process and one which we should always partake in because when we do, we will find that we will have more ‘space’ in our hearts, minds and homes for “what is essential.” It will also help us to discover just how blessed we are, and, hopefully, this will move us to share our blessings with others.
5. Decide. Of course, steps 1 to 4 will bear no impact on our lives if we don’t decide to take them in the first place. So if you wish to change for the better — not just because of Lent — you need to make a decision to do so.
If you want to be a better person with a more positive outlook in life, make a decision to do so, and take whatever steps you will need to be so.
Ultimately, the ‘art’ of reflection should help us be better persons, or, at the very least, strive to be. Remember, it’s never too late to change, and if we are to change, it should be for our good and the good of all.