Here is a formula for self-reflection guaranteed to develop ourselves professionally and personally.
Step 1: Consider where our thoughts weren’t happy, focused, and optimistic. Change our thoughts instantly to happy ones.
If we had moments of troubling thoughts, instantly let them go. Replace them with a happy smile and a vow to selflessly serve others with no expectations. It’s freedom to the soul.
There are infinite positives to think about each and every day.
Step 2: Consider where our actions led to discomfort and unease. We gain when we consider ideal actions we could have done instead.
I love to put myself to high standards but to not judge anyone for how they behave. I may have an idea of how someone should behave, but I stop myself from being critical if they don’t behave as I feel they should. Everyone has different ideas of what counts as just or right behavior. I like to show people respect or at least empathy, even if I completely disagree with their actions. I try to adjust my behaviors to bring the people greater comfort.
But I do hold my own behavior to high standards. If my own behavior leads to discomfort in myself or others, I imagine the best possible outcome and revise my future actions accordingly.
Step 3: Consider what emotions we let predominate. And change them to positive ones.
A colleague criticized a task I was doing. I grew defensive and instantly regretted my anger. So, I apologized immediately and vowed I would never express anger—to her or to anyone again.
I know Western psychology says to avoid absolutes like “never” or “always,” but I strongly disagree. But I do agree it’s wise to never put absolutes on other people’s behaviors. In fact, I believe we should expect nothing from others.
But I do believe it’s critical for self-development to put absolutes on ourselves. For instance, I literally never want to feel anger. So, I vowed to instantly change any angry thought into its opposite, which is love, regardless of the circumstances.
Instead of feeling anger, my model is to warmly laugh, send love to the source of anger, view the source in a positive light, and explain away the source’s behavior as something innocent or understandable.
Try it out. It’s pure bliss.
Step 4: Name what the triggers for all of these scenarios were. Rename them into something uplifting.
For instance, my trigger was “criticism about my work,” which I’ll rename as “a welcome opportunity for professional growth.”
Step 5: Consider when we were happiest throughout the day. Vow to possess more of those happy thoughts, actions, and emotions.
I’m happiest when I’m working, learning skills, or writing. Bhakti yoga, I believe it’s called, is the yoga of work, where we enter an almost meditative state while working. I personally love this state.
But I also focus on loving others, laughing, smiling, and prioritizing others over myself. Doing this brings me great highs every day.
Step 6: Send thoughts of love to every single person who comes to mind, especially when the thoughts about a particular person are initially negative.
Step 7: Assess ways to develop our spirituality / desire to help others. Nothing brings greater joy than helping other beings.
So, these are seven steps of self-reflection to create your happiest life. These steps have brought me to my happiest state. A happy life comes down to the same mantra: love everyone today and love them even more tomorrow.