Insights into Gaining Insight

“A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

I had the honor of co-facilitating a team of professionals for a one-day retreat entitled Inside – Outside – Insight.  As the name implies, this workshop focuses on internal awareness (Your Outlook), external balance (Your Energy), and the insight one gains from tending to both (Your Passion).

As I reflect on this experience, the “teacher” became the “student”.  Following are my insights.

1.  Silence provides the opportunity for enriching insight.

During the Outlook section, the participants and facilitators took a 15-minute walk.  Not a difficult activity.  But, the instructions provided a bit of challenge for the extraverts in the group.   We were to walk together – only in silence – for the entire 15 minutes.

What would we have missed if we had talked?   From my perspective, I would have missed:

  • The clear cerulean blue of the sky on a beautiful day.
  • A huge ancient oak tree in a yard – with limbs so large they seemingly reached to embrace the neighboring houses.
  • The sounds of people experiencing Saturday afternoon in an historic downtown setting.

This mindfulness – being in touch with the here and now – is so very vital to our mental and physical health.   Whether it’s a few minutes of quiet time, a short silent meandering walk, or time spent meditating, silence opens our minds to think beyond our everyday pressures and challenges.

Give yourself this gift.  Schedule a “silent period” each day.  And then, as you exercise this priority, see what insights you gain and how your mental energy expands.

2.  We must train our minds to be “mindful.”

That does seem contradictory, doesn’t it?  But we have so many demands pushing at us – always thinking of the next minute, the next day, the next week, the next month.  In these thoughts, we lose today.

So, start your day with thoughts of what it will bring.  End your day with thoughts of what you achieved.  Please pay attention to what is going on around you – and celebrate the “here and now”.

Tomorrow will be here much faster than you want.  Will you have memories of today?

3.  Be grateful, smile, and laugh.

It is always the right time to say thank you, to share a smile, and to let out a good belly laugh.  These are the three no-cost actions that can keep one centered.

Three life lessons:

  • It is never too late to say thank you.  Never! 
  • It is always appropriate to share a smile with everyone.  And even if it is not “shared”, it is always appropriate to gift a smile to others.
  • And what about a good hearty laugh?  Don’t the clouds part?  Don’t you gain a boost of energy that can only come from a brief moment of unadulterated joy?

Regardless of who is around you, these three acts create a bond that is impenetrable.  There are so many things in this world that can turn one’s outlook gray and dismal … but a smile, laugh, and/or thank you can quickly erase the storm and give hope – even in the direst of circumstances.

So my three lessons learned are simple – yet important.  Doesn’t it seem as if the easiest things are often the most overlooked?

Make a pact with yourself to spend some time in silence, be mindful, smile, laugh and be grateful.  Commit to a daily practice – and make it a habit.  Then, reflect on the impact of these new behaviors … and let me know the difference this has made in your life.

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