There’s a time for work, a time for play, and a time for contemplation. Contemplation is defined as deep reflective thought or the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time.
Unlike the practices of mindfulness or meditation, you don’t lose yourself in the experience. When you engage in contemplation, you are thinking about an experience in words or thoughts. Contemplation is an exercise of reflection on, rather than presence with, or absorption in, an experience.
The primary advantage humans have over animals is our ability to contemplate. In doing so, we learn about ourselves, our lives, and our situation.
According to Psychology Today, “From the Greek philosopher Plato to the Buddha to modern psychology forefathers William James and Wilhelm Wundt, the value of contemplation as a means of fostering well-being and wisdom has been known for a long time.”
I only wish somebody had told me. As a Type-A overachiever, there was a time when I had no awareness that there were benefits to pausing and contemplating — on myself, my life, or my business. I believed that if I wasn’t moving forward, I was “wasting” time. I now know better, and I’d like to share what I have learned with you.
The 3 main benefits that are realized from contemplation
1.You learn about yourself
Most people are shockingly low in self-awareness – like I was. Some believe they are too busy, while others prefer to distract themselves rather than invest time in contemplation.
There’s much to be learned by taking a few minutes daily to reflect on your day and the choices you made. It can help you to face your fears or redefine your life. When you know yourself, you can make better plans that utilize your strengths, avoid your weaknesses, and enhance your life.
2. You learn from your past
If you look at the biggest mistakes you’ve made in your life, you’ll find they’re surprisingly similar. Contemplation allows you to notice the negative patterns in your life. You may have spent money you couldn’t afford, become involved with someone you shouldn’t, or made poor decisions to get away from stressful situations.
If you’ve never taken the time to review these mistakes, you’ve probably repeated them. Reflecting on the past helps you identify what works and use it to your advantage.
3. You take intelligent and thoughtful action
When you’re action-oriented, you may believe – like I did – that contemplation is a “waste” of time. Yet before jumping in with both feet, it can be incredibly helpful to spend some time thinking and strategizing. Reflect on what you actually want to accomplish for yourself.
And even if you have an idea where you want to go, you may want to consider regular reflection to ensure that you remain on the path toward success. When you’re on the right path, you’ll find greater peace and joy in your life.
An essential tool for change
Contemplation can be incredibly rewarding, because you can use your experiences and knowledge to discover a more effective path through life. You can learn about yourself, solve challenges, and become a more powerful version of yourself.
Contemplation can be a potent tool for change. You can choose to get different results in your life. All it takes is a little directed thinking each day to clear your mind, relax, and find that peace and joy you crave.
10 Strategies for applying the power of contemplation in your life
1.Make contemplation a priority
If you’re anything like me, you’re a busy person. You won’t spend time contemplating on a regular basis unless you make it a priority. So, decide that you’re going to spend some time each day reflecting. You can learn a lot if you take the time to examine your life on a regular basis.
2. Plan the time and purpose
You most likely have a specific time for meals, going to bed, or watching TV. So, it’s important to choose a specific time for contemplation, too. Because, if you don’t plan contemplation into your day, it probably won’t happen.
Also, before you begin, plan how you’re going to use your reflection time. Otherwise, you may find yourself staring out the window and daydreaming.
3. Examine your day
Ask yourself: What went well today? What brought me joy? What am I grateful for? What didn’t go according to plan and how can I receive it as a gift? What did I learn today? How do I want to move forward based on what I learned today? What specific actions do I want to take? What will bring me greater joy?
4. Examine your challenges
Ask yourself: What are the challenges in my life? Do I view them as problems or opportunities? How can I shift my mindset so I see problems as opportunities instead? What led me to this point? How are these challenges impacting my life?
5. Reflect on how to move forward
Ask yourself: What are some possible action steps I can take to address the challenges in my life? What can I do right now? How can I move forward with a joyful outlook? Rather than distract yourself from your challenges, see them as opportunities you can choose to engage with more joyfully.
6. Search for answers
Maybe you’re not sure why you’re so insecure in your romantic relationships. Perhaps you have unresolved issues from your childhood. Why do you spend too much money? This can be a great use of your contemplation time. When you focus your attention on a specific question, you’re more likely to find the answer you need.
7. Use affirmations
Write a list of affirmations that embrace what you want to achieve and what you want to become in your life.
Write them in present tense, because It is important to focus on the things that are occurring now that will lead to your future success. And be sure to use the word “I” throughout the list. For example, “I am always good at my job.”
You may hear words in your head such as, “But you messed this up the other day” or “You weren’t as productive a few days ago.” If you are hearing things like this, then banish those negative thoughts. It can take some time to get used to positive thinking, but it’ll be time well-spent.
Repeating your affirmations aloud will enable you to reprogram your mind with positive thoughts.
Take a few minutes and catch your breath. If you have a busy life, it’s important to rest your body and mind each day. A little time alone can be better than a therapist.
9. Write and reflect
Purchase a journal and write in that journal every single day. Each day, first write down something positive that occurred that day. Next, write down a question for yourself. Don’t answer that question then and there. Reflect on that question and write your answer the next day as a part of your journal entry.
10. Visualize creatively
This is a fun way to self-reflect! Make yourself a box to show your hopes and dreams. Or you can create a vision board. Place pictures and words that represent you and your thoughts into your box or on your board. The more details you include, the better it works! Imagination is the key… and the sky’s the limit!
Your guide to the past and present
Life isn’t only about going to work, watching TV, spending time with family, and chasing your goals. When you practice reflection and introspection you can live a more peaceful life and continue to grow each day. Even just 15 minutes a day can make a big difference.
Use your contemplation time however you like. You might reflect on your childhood or the meaning of life, review the last year, plan the future, or consider your spirituality. You could even practice your ability to focus. It’s your time to use as you like.
Contemplation is a useful tool that’s free to learn and apply. Imagine being able to leverage your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and avoid repeating your mistakes. A session of reflection each day will help you become the best version of yourself. And over time, contemplation can enable you to achieve the peace and joy you deserve.
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