When I realized this article would be printed on Sept. 11, it gave me pause. What could I possibly write about that would adequately represent thoughts about this day? For my generation, it is a day that everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing — like the John F. Kennedy’s assignation for previous generations. (I happened to be with a group of third graders doing my student teaching in 2001.) Now, two decades later, it is a day of reflection — a day to pause and remember the lives lost, the world’s reactions, and the resulting changes. Simply put, the world was never the same again.

Reflection, as a common practice, has numerous benefits. In fact, you have probably been subconsciously reflecting your whole life — thinking about and learning from past experiences to avoid things that did not work and to repeat things that did. Making this a mindful and intentional practice can enhance the benefits. With a bit of thought, reflections can be a useful tool for learning. It allows you to recognize your own strengths and weakness and use this to guide on-going learning and continued growth.

Whether you are reflecting about a momentous national event, an interaction with a friend or co-worker, or what you ate for dinner, these steps can help. Think about:

n What, where, and who?

Think about the situation: What happened, where were you and who else was involved? What part did you play? What was the outcome?

n How did it make you feel?

What was running through your head and how did you feel about it? Be honest with yourself: were you happy, afraid, confused, angry or scared? If you can understand how you were feeling it will help you understand why things happened as they did and help you to recognize similar situations in the future.

n Why did it happen?

Now that you have thought about things in greater detail, think about why things happened as they did.

n Could you have done anything differently?

With the help of hindsight how would you have managed the situation differently? What would you have kept the same? It is easy to remember the things you did not do, but don’t forget what you did well.

n What will you do differently in the future?

This is likely the most important stage in reflecting. This is a chance to not only think about this specific situation, but what can be transferred to other situations you will encounter.

Remember that these reflections are about you — not about what you wish others would do differently. As much as we want to control others (our friends, co-workers, significant others, children), the only people we can control are ourselves.

Contact Amanda Root at Cornell Cooperative Extension of JeffersonCounty, 315-788-8450 or email arr27@cornell.edu.

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