The Stoics, in all their practical wisdom, were advocates of reflection. Famed Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca captured the importance of reflection in this quote that I love:
“I will keep constant watch over myself and — most usefully — will put each day up for review. For this is what makes us evil — that none of us looks back upon our own lives. We reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past.” — Seneca
It’s a powerful reminder.
Over the past few months, I have moved my own reflection practice to Reflection.app — our new web-based app that organizes your Highlights, Lowlights, and Free Writes into a private and secure digital journal.
Hands-down what I value most about the app is the guided Monthly Review. Looking back gives me a chance to revisit and feel grateful for all the beautiful moments I experienced over the past month. At the same time, it also gives me a chance to learn from and find peace with unfortunate events and challenging moments.
Epictetus, a former slave whose pursuit of wisdom led him to become one of Stoicism’s most analytical thinkers, once said:
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.” — Epictetus
Inspired in part by this Stoic approach, our Monthly Review includes a simple yet powerful framework for processing the month’s more challenging moments. For each Lowlight, you are prompted to ask yourself:
“Was this within your control?”
Then, there is an important follow up. Here is a preview:
For Lowlights within your control, you’re asked: What would you do differently next time?
For Lowlights outside of your control, you’re asked: How can you find peace with this?
By revisiting my Lowlights days or weeks later, I have the distance I need to understand my experiences, emotions and actions — and view them with a more equanimous state of mind, seeing them without judgment but rather with the goal of finding peace and growth.
It’s incredible how much perspective a bit of time can bring.
P.S. One of the most powerful features of Reflection.app is the way your daily journaling feeds directly into your Monthly Reviews, which feed directly into your End-of-Year Review. Our End-of-Year Review template launches in the coming weeks; sign up for Reflection.app now to get notified.
P.P.S. We have released a ton of updates to Reflection.app in the past few weeks, including a bunch of bug fixes, new authentication options and a public roadmap to track your feature requests.
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This article is part of our series on the theme of Reflection.EXPLORE Reflection →
Distilled from our Manifesto, positive psychology, the science of mindfulness, and ancient philosophic studies we have identified twelve themes core to living both fully and mindfully. We mapped these twelve themes to each of the twelve months in a year. Together with our community we explore one each month.VIEW OUR THEMES →