Less Selfies, More Self-Reflection

September 5, 2014
submitted by Sarah Vignos (a WHS student who went on Windham Presbyterian’s Mission to Haiti)

Self-reflection is one of the most important activities that humans should practice in life.  Self-reflection is the ability to look back and analyze past events, interactions, plans and results, and be able to formulate an opinion on them.  This requires time alone without distractions.

Reflection is important because it allows us to see where we need to make changes in our lives such as; reprioritizing our time, money, and effort; setting goals and realigning our behaviors to them; and being able to focus and strengthen our faith, prayers and morals.  Without self-reflection, you may not be able to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and properly address them.  For example, you could be ignoring a friend or being rude to them, but you haven’t noticed because you don’t leave time for yourself to think.  Personally, with over 20 hours of gymnastics a week and a challenging school load last year, I was unable to spend time with my family, which is what is most important to me.  My relationships with my sister, mother, and father had distanced a bit and I also wasn’t able to discuss how their lives were going.  It is extremely important to stop, be still, and think once in a while.

Kids and teenagers don’t seem to practice self-reflection, perhaps because they have very chaotic schedules.  From age 6 to about 18, and even further on, kids have fun or constructive activities that fill their time such as sports, theatre, clubs, boy/girl scouts, music lessons, etc.  On the limited occasions that these teenagers have down time, constant electronics, mindless social media, and egotistical selfies seem to take priority.  Sometimes, social media takes over the sleeping time they have, which leads to irritability and possibly sickness.  Growing up like this, a child doesn’t understand the importance of slowing down, journaling, praying, having alone time, and reflecting.  This may also be due to the fact that their parents have not taught them this important practice.  In fact, the parents may be so busy with work and other things that they don’t practice it themselves.

This past summer, I was able to experience the true effects of slowing down and really focusing on my faith and myself.  As I traveled to Haiti in late July, free time was ever-present.  This time reflecting and journaling allowed me to focus and deepen my spirituality and work on improving myself.  Being in Haiti really changed my outlook on life and opinion of our lifestyle here in the United States.  Despite the Haitians being extremely poor when it came to homes and material goods, the kids there were extremely happy.  The pure joy the children and people along the streets displayed towards my team and me was not what I experience in Windham.  There was a sense of real community and fulfillment there.  I believe that this is because of their laid-back schedules and how their culture is focused around faith and helping others, not around material goods.

Where would you rather live: in a place that is rich in love, hope, faith, and happiness but lacking in material wealth, or in a place where happiness is dependent on money and materials items, and people don’t appreciate the natural things in life or the people around them?  Being in a clear-minded environment helped me to realize the falsehood that materialism leads to happiness, the danger of busyness, and the necessity of downtime, alone time, and self-reflection.  I think the world would be a better and happier place if everyone were to practice these healthy habits.