I am reminded with today being Memorial Day that taking pause to reflect can be such a healthy and necessary practice to incorporate into our lives. Whatever your views may be on issues of politics, military endeavors, or the like, today is a useful day for us all to pause and reflect and in short, to remember. Here are some pointers I would like to share with you for remembering.
1. Remember to notice those who have sacrificed something for the greater good.
We all have those people in our lives who, when we pause to reflect, we recognize have given up something they valued in order to pursue a greater benefit. Today we remember our service men and women, yet we may also be reminded of others: parents, teachers, mentors, a valuable friend, maybe even ourselves.
2. Remember to give credit where credit is due.
In times of stress, crisis, or feeling overwhelmed, it is all too easy to focus on the current situation and feel inadequate to effect a solution. We may judge ourselves or we may judge others out of fear that nothing will change for the better. In this pursuit, we neglect to notice the efforts at those who are making subtle yet significant shifts that stem or turn the tide.
3. Remember to take the long view.
We often find ourselves stuck moving from one challenge to the next, yet fail to see that over the long haul we have made progress. When this happens, we are in danger of losing hope in the moment that we will make it through this challenge, or languish in the anticipation that if we do, there will only be one more. If we remember that we have already made it through so much, why shouldn’t we make it through this?
4. Remember to take breaks.
It has become habit all too often to tell ourselves that we will “earn” time off when we have successfully accomplished what we “need” to. The problem with this kind of thinking is that we are liable to continue making the same mistakes, or simply that we will continue to find the next unfinished item once this one is finished, and never get to the end. We burn out, become despondent, and may feel forced to give up because we are drained and feeling like a failure. Give yourself a break more often, consciously and with more intentionality, even if it is seemingly insignificant: a few deep breaths several times a day to clear your mind, stop and say thank to someone who is “just doing their job” (or, for that matter, to stop and say thank you to yourself, for just doing your job), turn your phone and computer off for five minutes, remember a moment/place where you felt calm, safe, or free.
5. Remember that doing something new doesn’t mean doing something more
Change never means doing more of the same. Change means thinking or doing outside the old habits that have become boring or un-useful. Doing something new doesn’t mean that we have to figure out what it is first, because we usually only apply the same stale kind of thinking to figuring it out. Doing something new means taking a risk. Usually we have to try it before we are convinced that it will work for us. So remember to do one new thing every day: a different route to work, a different lunch time routine, getting up a little earlier or later, try a new flavor of ice cream, smile at a complete stranger, or call up an old friend. Whatever it is, you won’t regret it, as long as you don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure what the ”right” new thing you will do today is.