As we journey through life, heart-stoppers will come to each of us.

Whatever your future path may be, may I suggest to you today the four guideposts to assist in your respective journey through life.

Let us consider each in its turn. First, backward-looking. A review of the past can be helpful—that is, if we learn from our past mistakes and if we do not repeat them. John Toland, a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, in summing up his monumental work The Rising Sun, declared:

“I have done my utmost to let the events speak for themselves, and if any conclusion was reached, it was that there are no simple lessons in history, that it is human nature that repeats itself, not history.

I have suggested merely a glance at the past, for it is not practical to think we can return. May each of us learn to appreciate the gift of life that we have been given. I would urge all of us to glance backward in order to recognize those things for which we are thankful—and then to express appreciation to anyone to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. May we express thanks to parents for caring, for sacrificing, for laboring in our behalf. May we express thanks to friends and to any others who have helped along the way. May we express thanks to our Father in Heaven for the blessing of life and the chance to return to Him. And may we express thanks to Him for the gift of His Only Begotten Son, who died that we might live.

May the lessons we learn as we look backward help us to live more fully each day of our future.

Now that we have glanced backward, let us look inward. From the heavens came the gentle invitation “Look to God and live.”

Whatever we call it, whether reflection or internal question making, it’s essentially the art or act of looking back at our experiences and observing, evaluating, drawing conclusions. It differs to a present-minded focus, the purpose for which might be precision or acceptance and to future-based thinking more contemplative and curious. Reflection, being past in focus, is invariably more learning based and evaluative in character.

A particular type of reflection – often mistaken for reflection itself – is metacognition, which is to reflect on or think about one’s thinking. Evaluating, bringing presence to our thoughts, fosters better thinking and growth.

Often mindfulness is confused with reflection. Mindfulness is about giving attention to what’s present right now, both physically and mentally, internally and externally. Reflection is more past orientated, but with the purpose of usefully employing that past experience (and learning) in the present. Mindfulness is about creating a space or platform for clarity. Reflection about creating re-alignment, clarity and new direction.

In reflecting, we often touch upon what we’re suffering or what brings us joy. In doing so we are more likely to know what we value, what we need, what our next choice will be. We better understand what’s what and are better placed to integrate (recognize and draw on) our experience. It becomes a greater part of what we recognize and own. From that place, we’re better placed to choose and act successfully, to be self-supporting and supportive of others contemporaneously.

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