No I am not practicing my alliteration, Well... OK I am, but not on purpose. Almost every morning I take a few minutes over my first cup of coffee to get all introspective on myself which usually leads to concerns, questions, and not unsurprisingly a lot more coffee. Hence, the Cup of Coffee Concerns.
A little introspection is a dangerous thing. No... it isn't, I don't know why I wrote that, nobody says that. I think most everyone at one time or another stops and takes stock, questions what they are thinking, what they are doing, and hopefully why. In my quest to become a better person, my desire to constantly be improving, to be the best me I can be (there I go again...) introspection plays a very important role. If I never look into myself, into what drives me, what the basic blocks of my existence are, how can I possibly change for the better?
I know there is an unspoken ban on Wikipedia in scholarly works, but since I really don't think this blog is taken that seriously plus I don't consider it to be a scholarly work, not to mention that I actually got this quote from a TEDx talk (The Value of Self-Reflection - James Schmidt) I think it is OK to use here:
"Self-reflection is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose and essence" - Unattributed Wikipedia
Self-reflection, introspection, contemplation, whatever you want to call it, is one of those things that separate us from the lesser animals roaming the world. Do you think a honey badger stops and takes stock of his motivations before it tears into a bee-hive?*
Time is a precious commodity, there is only so much of it and once it is used up there isn't any more. In a world where we spend time reading internet meme's, looking at photos of cats, and watching reality TV; can't there be, shouldn't there be, certainly there is, a better use for this time?
Humans need to grow, both physically and emotionally. As a race we are always reaching for the stars, always looking ahead and searching for the next challenge . As individuals there isn't enough of either. I hate going back to the same well so often, but Aaron Sorkin again illustrates my point perfectly in this back and forth from "100,000 Airplanes" S3E11 of The West Wing:
Toby: It'll be seen as a political ploy.
CJ: It can be seen - excuse me - it can be seen as self-serving.
CJ: Using cancer to deflect attention from MS.
Bartlet: You think people with cancer care what my motives are? You think their families do?
CJ: I'm saying -Bartlet: Joey?
Joey: I agree with everything that's been said, except, I don't think they'll see it as deflecting the MS. I think they'll see it as deflecting the censure.
Bartlet: Once again, why would somebody...?
Joey: Everybody cares about motive, Mr. President.
Bartlet: I didn't -
Kenny: She said, "Everybody cares about motive," sir.
Everybody does care about motive. If you don't spend some of the precious time we have looking into your motivations to make sure you are doing the right things for the right reasons then you could be headed down the wrong road. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is almost as bad as doing the wrong thing in the first place. Introspection and self-reflection are the tools I use to make sure my motives are in line with my values and the direction I want to go in my life. If my motives are not value based, then at least I am aware of that fact and I can keep an eye on what I am doing.
I certainly don't want to give the impression that my introspection always, or even often, shows my motives and desires are true to the values that I strive to live by since most of the time they are not. After all I am a deeply flawed and selfish person, that is to say, a normal human being. This is the biggest reason to make sure self-reflection and introspection are a regular activity in my life. Without thought there can be no change.
Surely you want to be a better you. I know this is the era of feeling good about who you are but I really believe that they are expecting you to be at least at a very basic level a good person already. I mean there is a way to be a person, and if you are then yes, you can feel good about who you are. That doesn't mean you shouldn't strive to be the best person you can be. Carve yourself some time this week for self-reflection, introspection, contemplation. Chances are you will like what you discover, though you might not. The only thing I can promise you is that you will be better off than if you had spent that time watching reality TV.
This post was written while listening to Desire Radio on Google Play, Desire by Ryan Adams is an incredible song and a great example of the type of mood I am in during introspection. Give it a listen, I promise you will enjoy it.
* The honey badger was probably a poor choice for this analogy, as they are solitary creatures and just might spend a little time while alone in their hole thinking about the nature of things...