There are many lessons that come immediately upon entering the adult world—responsibility, accountability, professionalism, etc. When I entered the workforce, I expected to hone these skills. What I didn’t expect, however, was to also learn how to use reflection as a means for personal and professional development.
Reflection is more than receiving and interpreting feedback; it’s the act of exploring the feelings and emotions associated with an experience in order to bring the event and actions into sharper focus. Through reflection, we are better equipped to identify areas for development and create an action plan.
This past month, Ruby hosted our third annual Happiness Journal challenge. The challenge asked participants to respond to a series of questions each day for 21 days, as well as complete optional activities (meditation and exercise). While the goal of the Happiness Journal is to encourage Rubys to focus on the positive aspects of their day, the questions themselves are a practice in reflection: share your gratitude action for the day, describe a positive experience from the past 24 hours, etc. In the process of writing about happiness each day, we also learned to reflect on more than just what makes us happy.
What It Means To Give Back
Ellie has participated in the Happiness Journal challenge for the past two years. While she knew what to expect coming into the challenge, she quickly found this year brought new surprises.
“I filled out the journal each morning when I first got in. As a result, I ended up reflecting on what happened yesterday, as opposed to that day, and a lot of that involved my personal life. I’m always happy at work, so I found the journal was an opportunity to reflect on myself and my relationships. 98% of my journal this year was about my personal life, and it really made me take a closer look at my acts of gratitude. Was I giving back on a daily basis, or taking things for granted? The journal challenge has really helped me make sure I act on the things I’m thankful for.”
After hearing all about the Happiness Journal from fellow Rubys, Amanda was excited to give it a try for herself. She knew it would be a challenge to stay consistent, but also to reflect on her own life.
“My goal for the journal was to try and be present each day. I challenged myself to complete the additional prompt to practice a short meditation. I’ve tried to include mindfulness exercises throughout my adult life as frequently as possible, and the journal was an active reminder to practice a short meditation each day, either at work while on a break, or after I get home. Through this practice, I’ve found that I recognize and appreciate the power of small gestures much more than before—even things as small as a sending a cute text message.”
Eliminating the Noise
This was also my first year with the challenge. Though I’ve kept a journal for more than 10 years, I have never used prompts before. My hope was the prompts would help focus my reflection, so I could look for ways to grow in specific areas of my life.
Boy, three little prompts can lead to some pretty big realizations. I quickly realized I let far too much noise into my life. At first, I struggled each day to write down three things I was grateful for—not because there aren’t wonderful things in my life, but because I couldn’t pull these moments out from all the other things demanding my attention. By having to articulate the positive moments, I learned to experience them more fully. For example, if I wrote “my sisters” as one thing I was grateful for, I eliminated all the noise related to them (e.g. upcoming birthdays, a text message I hadn’t responded to, etc.) and instead focused on when they flew to Portland for my 30th birthday, or our recent family vacation. I think I’ll start using prompts in all my journaling from now on!
Despite having completed our third challenge, the Happiness Journal continues to help our staff grow in new and exciting ways. Taking time to reflect helps us be present in the moment and eliminate the noise so we can bring that famous Ruby friendliness and warmth to every call.