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Monday, December 31, 2018

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

It’s that time of the festive cheer when people often tend to make resolutions, of course, more as a habit.  And how could the beginning of 2019 be different!

It’s an annual ritual, perhaps, driven more by the undying craving for refining oneself. Yet, we often won’t see them through. They rather sprout more to flaunt than to execute, perhaps. Now the question is: Could this year’s resolutions be made differently?  Say, like adopting a resolution which is more realistic, may be more implementable, and within the reach of oneself. For, no one can afford to ignore one’s desire to become that which one admires most.

Well, if you say, “Why not?”, then I wish to share something interesting  that I have read with you. To begin with put your life on pause for a while, just sit quiet, take deep breath and reconnect with yourself. Once you feel being with yourself, reflect on the week that just passed off by putting a straight question to yourself: “What happened in the whole of the week?”

As one reflects on the week that just passed off—thoughtfully looks back at his/her experiences—with the question: “What happened?” , one is likely to end up with the following results:

i.             Some acts—what we did/said in the week—appear as quite pleasing to oneself.
ii.       There would be some incidents of which one is rather neutral about what had happenedthere is no good or bad in them except that something just happened.
iii.          Looking at some other deeds, one realizes that he/she did something wrong or poorly.

Now, this result—classification of past deeds into good, neutral and wrong—can be used as learning-points for conducting oneself in the future. For that to happen, what one need to do is pretty simple: 

I       Pick all those actions that one thought as pretty good and examine how one could repeat them again and again in the future.
ii.        Coming to the second result i.e., neutral, one needs to analyse them as to how one can make them better in the future.
Iii      Moving to the last result that has shown one’s actions as wrong, one should question himself/herself as to what should he/she do to make it right next time? Further, in all such outcomes, it’s perhaps more desirable first to accept one’s committing the wrong and then straight go to the person effected by his/her such wrong deed and say something to the effect: “I am sorry, it’s my fault. I sincerely apologize for whatever harm I would have caused.” Secondly, one should guard himself/herself from repeating such wrong deeds. 

Thus, there emerges from this simple reflection-question—“what happened?”—two benefits to its practitioner: one, one could see one’s actions as they really happened rather than how one had wished they had happened; and two, use the outcome as learning points for future conduct.  

Next, as a sequel to this reflection, one may take up ‘discernment’ as the next exercise. Discernment is nothing but going deeper into what has happened with the question: “Why did it happen?” This question takes one to the very root of one’s past deeds. A focused meditation on this question i.e., “Why I did it?”/“Why I said it?” throws open new insights that might have not struck to mind when one actually did it. Such an exercise is sure to bring out something highly insightful. For, it explains the underlying ‘why’ of one’s wrong deeds. 

True, this new knowledge cannot be used for correcting the past deed, but can certainly be used to better one’s future performance, isn’t it?  Yes, it can be provided we are willing to put the new knowledge into practice. Which is why, we should strongly determine to put every such learning into practice. Then only the whole exercise becomes meaningful. Such constant acquisition of new knowledge and willingly putting it to use in our day to day transactions with the society is sure to make our lives better than yesterday.

That said, I must say here that it is always pretty inconvenient to have an appointment with oneself for introspection. But once put into practice, the experience of the benefits flowing out of such an exercise is certain to make one to go all out for it. Its sustained practice enables one live a better life. And to end this on a glimmering hope, let me borrow the sumptuous words of Philip Larkin: “…Last year is dead, … / Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.”

Happy New Year!

(Reference: Dan Coughlin (2018) The Tremendous Value of Personal Reflection and Discernment, EE, Vol XXI, No.4)


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