Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Launching the new year with a commitment to be self-consciously reflective

  Expanding on the theme that the best way to improve your life and have an exceptionally successful and fulfilling New Year is to increase your wisdom and optimism, I urge you not to just skim this essay but to take some serious reflection time to answer these questions.

  What did you learn last year that will help you become wiser and better? And for that matter, what did you learn last month, last week, yesterday?

  These aren’t questions you can answer off the top of your head. They require serious and systematic reflection, an essential quality of wisdom and the foundation stone of happiness.

  So before you finalize your New Year’s resolutions, consider adding a commitment to be self-consciously reflective and self-confidently humble.

  Self-conscious reflection is developing the habit of regularly reviewing and reconsidering life’s experiences to extract meaningful lessons.

  An annual ritual is important but hardly enough. Think how much more you’ll learn and grow if at the end of each day or week, you set aside quiet time to ask yourself these three questions:

1) What went well and what didn’t?

2) What did I do to make things better or worse, and what could I have done better?

3) Were my attitudes and reactions to the experience what I wanted them to be?

  This sort of rigorous reflection doesn’t happen spontaneously. That’s why it has to be self-conscious. I confess that I often don’t follow my own advice. My goal this year is to be more self-disciplined.

  Self-confident humility is the attitude that you don’t have to be sick to get better; an abiding belief that there is always something to learn from every experience and that being smarter or better today doesn’t mean you were inadequately smart, sensible, or virtuous yesterday.

  If you can’t list at least ten useful life lessons from the past year, you either haven’t thought hard enough or you may be afflicted with self-limiting arrogance, the belief that you really are as smart and good as you can or care to be.

  Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Capital City Free Press on January 1, 2021.

  About the author: Michael Josephson is one of the nation’s most sought-after and quoted ethicists. Founder and president of the Josephson Institute and its CHARACTER COUNTS! project, he has conducted programs for more than 100,000 leaders in government, business, education, sports, law enforcement, journalism, law, and the military. Josephson is also an award-winning radio commentator.

  This article was published by the Josephson Institute.

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