Reflection or Action
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | November 2017 (edited 2018)
A healthy mind utilizes many states of excitement and rest. We must find a balance that pushes us to work but also finds time to recover.
When the brain is in a heightened state of excitation, neurons fire rapidly—and we feel it. Some people prefer these rushes of excitement over quietness. Excitement has evolutionary roots. An excited system prepares the body for crisis. After twenty-five years of police work in a large California city, I’ve experienced my share of excitement. The shattering of quietness by a gunshot cutting through the cold air momentarily freezes the mind, followed by a reorientation and search for more information. The experience of danger and the firing of neurons (warning of a crisis) springs to life from many life encounters—not just guns. A child in danger, an empty bank account, or a positive cancer screening test awakens our fears and we feel the excitation in our body.
Dynamic events can overwhelm. Some people perform well under pressure while others crumble. Brain excitation is unbearably discomforting for some, while for others, it only pushes them towards effective action, as if they welcome the excited states; often it is the quietness that distresses them.
We all have our unique constellation of challenges.
A constant excited mind, however, misses the benefits of honest reflection that typically accompanies solitude. If we are dissatisfied with an aspect of our life, self-searching may unearth hidden behaviors sabotaging success. In quietness, we may discover what we previously preferred to leave buried. Busy minds keep the unsavory realities hidden, while quietness invites the unconscious to the surface. Sadly, to protect hidden thorns, many lose the enjoyment of healthy escapes found in the quiet corners of their mind.
"A constant excited mind, however, misses the benefits of honest reflection that typically accompanies solitude."
Conversely, we can’t hide in quietness, cowering when confronted with challenges. We must bounce back and forth, engaging life on the treacherous paths of existence. We must develop the emotional maturity to encounter the fierce emotions with courage and resilience. Many of life’s bullies must be stood up to and challenged, only then do we escape their villainess and emerge the victor.
Balance is tricky, never completely perfect. As we encounter the dynamics of an ever-changing and unpredictable life more weight must constantly be placed on one side of the scale or the other. Some day we achieve the most by sitting in nature, feeling the coolness of the air and rejuvenating. Other times, we must step out of our minds and into reality, working towards a solution. Finding and maintain balance is a never-ending challenge for the seeker of a flourishing life.
Enjoy the peaceful corners of your mind, extract the hidden wisdoms and rejuvenating peace, and then act, sampling with solutions that will move you forward to new heights and satisfying accomplishments.