When surprises go unheeded, they don't just fade away. Without the self-awareness that comes from self-reflection, a relatively minor surprise or small problem compounds into a major upset. Now you've got a full-blown crisis on your hands. As I've seen among people I know, including those who have shared their life journeys with me, these crises often spill over into numerous areas: a major relationship is in turmoil, someone's health suffers, a job is in jeopardy. Maybe this has happened to you or to someone you know. If so, then you understand that hitting the brick wall can cause wreckage everywhere in your life.

The best course of action is prevention: self-reflection (see chapter 1) and paying attention to surprises (see chapter 2). But we're all works in progress. We're never in balance all the time, and unfortunately, sometimes it can be too easy to ignore what's happening in our lives. Or we pay attention to a surprise for a little while, adjusting our behaviors and trying to be more balanced. But we don't stick to it and soon go back to our old ways. It's as if we realize that going 90 miles an hour on the highway is not sustainable and we get off at the next exit ramp. The problem is it's so easy to take the next on-ramp onto that highway, and then it's as if we never slowed down at all.

When we're not self-reflective, we can convince ourselves that “things aren't that bad” or “that's just the way it is.” We'll address a problem or ...

Get Your 168 now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.