“Strange, isn’t it, George? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
-Clarence the Angel, It’s a Wonderful Life
In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey becomes consumed by a mistake he made – by the money he lost – and needs Clarence the Angel to show him all the beautiful blessings in his life and the different ways he has touched others’ lives without realizing it. Like George, it is easy for us to get wrapped up in our “failures” and miss the everyday beauty and positive impacts we make in our lives. Incorporating some reflection time into our daily routine can help to reduce the overwhelming feeling of busyness and help us see and appreciate the positive aspects of life. As studies have demonstrated, having a grateful outlook by consciously focusing on the positives can have emotional and physiological benefits. With the expression of gratitude so strongly linked to well-being and happiness, why not spend just a few minutes a day reflecting on the beauty of yesterday?
Daily reflection also helps you to avoid getting trapped in a draining routine, recognize the low and high points of your day, and define your priorities so that you are taking steps towards your long-term goals rather than merely reacting to day-to-day situations. Every morning while I’m commuting to work, I spend ~10 minutes thinking about the day before. I consider experiences and interactions for which I am grateful as well as my frustrations. Then, I prepare for the day that lies ahead so that I can recognize what I am grateful for as it is occurring, respond to situations that arise in a more thoughtful manner, and mentally prepare myself for stressful or difficult moments.
The reflection guide below can help you consider your experiences and feelings during the day, appreciating the high points of the day and recognizing the low points.
A Daily Reflection Guide (writable)
A Daily Reflection Guide (pdf)
Spending a few minutes each day reflecting over the previous day will help train your mind to focus on the positive aspects of your life and plan for challenging situations, moving you toward becoming the best version of yourself. As young adults, we are constantly experiencing changes and transitions—new jobs, cross-country moves, break-ups—but taking this time for reflection can help us stay grounded and better manage stress, develop our interests and passions, and become more mindful in daily decision-making.
Picture from here.