Did you know that Albert Einstein was 16 years old when he first began thinking of the idea of special relativity? He was a constant daydreamer and he “envisioned” special relativity in one of his daydreams.

Brilliant insights out of deep thought aren’t unique.

Charles Darwin had something called a “thinking path” that he would walk down to consider his deep thoughts.

Fredrich Nietzsche regularly spent hours in nature trying to make sense of his ideas.

So the question is, what if we tried to do the same?

Unfortunately, daydreamers are often thought to be time wasters and unproductive in many ways.

Spending time thinking doesn’t seem like a productive way to live, but if it has helped some of the most brilliant minds in history to achieve their goals and find success, surely it can help us too.

According to psychologists, engaging in what is called “Reflective Thinking” is critical to self-improvement.

What is Reflective Thinking?

Reflection is the act of thinking about our experiences in such a way that we can draw meaning from them, find solutions to problems, and learn someone about ourselves in the process.

Reflection might often be thought of as a form of daydreaming since nothing physically productive is actually happening, but the act of reflecting can help you feel more confident in your decisions and help you navigate difficult times in your life.

Think about the last time something terrible happened to you. Were you able to find some good in that situation? If so, you were probably using the power of reflection to help you reconcile the experience into something that you learned from and grew from.

Why Does Reflection Matter?

Reflection matters for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that it helps us learn and grow from our experiences.

If you spend time every day thinking about our actions, attitude, behavior, connections, interactions, expressions, and even the food we ate, we could become better at these things and better at life in general.

Reflection helps people connect with themselves and those around them. It is one of the reasons why parents will ask children about their day at bedtime or at the dinner table. Asking “how was your day” can open a door to a world of reflection because children — and adults — need to stop and think about their day and what they did with it.

Two Hours to a Better Life

Some experts recommend up to 2 hours of reflective thinking per week. While that might seem like a lot of time, it’s only 120 minutes a week. Which is only 17 minutes a day, give or take a few seconds.

So if you spend 15-20 minutes a day first thing in the morning, or last thing before bed, thinking about your day, your life, you achievements, your failures, and more, you can begin to see patterns in your thinking emerge; you can begin to see how you connect with other people.

You can also start to see areas of your life that you want to improve, or you can spend the time trying to solve a problem.

Get a notebook and record your thoughts during those 15-20 minutes each day. And don’t feel guilty about making time to let your mind wander.

The Takeaway

Time spent thinking is not time wasted. Humans have been given the gift of reflection and it’s important to our lives that we use that time to determine things about ourselves, solve problems and try to make sense of the world around us.

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