December 26, 2011
A Reflective Approach to Bringing in the New Year
by Gregg Krech
The end of the year is a wonderful time to reflect back on our lives and see how we've been living. When we reflect on the year we step back and get perspective -- perspective that can inform our behavior and choices in the coming year.
The following suggestions are adapted from Naikan: Gratitude, Grace & the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection (Stone Bridge Press) by Gregg Krech – (p.172-175)
1. Reflect on your mother, father or other people who have supported you during the past year. You may have received things during an earlier time period, but still benefitted from them during the past year.
2. Do Naikan reflection on someone with whom you’ve had difficulty, conflict, or tension during the past year. This is often the type of self-reflection we don’t feel like doing. Maybe that is an indication that it would be useful.
The basic format of Naikan reflection is simple: You look at a specific person for a specific time period. You then consider three questions, writing down your answers in three separate columns on paper:
- What did I receive from _____?
- What did I give to _______?
- What troubles or difficulties did I cause ______?
In general it is useful to spend 45-60 minutes for each period of reflection.
3. Make a list of up to one hundred things you’ve received this past year without providing any compensation or consideration. These could be things you received as gifts, things you stole, or things you used without payment.
4. Reflect on your speech this past year. In what ways have you spoken critically, harmfully or inappropriately about others. How did this cause harm or trouble?
5. Write thank-you letters to those who have cared for you and served you this past year.
6. Write down each of your main roles in life (Father, husband, son, worker) and for each role consider what is most important for you to do in the coming year.
7. Sit quietly and reflect on the possibility that this year will be your last year of life. What is important for you to do if that turned out to be true?
Don't try to resolve your reflections and tie them all up nice and neatly into a package of goals or resolutions. Just sit with the questions and consider your life and your conduct this past year. Use the first few days to come to any conclusions about what needs to be done in the coming year.
Best wishes for a wonderful new year filled with good health and many new adventures and mysteries.
- Gregg Krech