Whether you’ve been reading these monthly newsletters for years or this is your very first time, I’m guessing one of the reasons you read them is that you’re interested in living a more meaningful and healthier life.
Besides many of the practical and actionable topics I’ve written about, I very much enjoy and am engaged in thinking and writing about philosophy. From time to time I throw in more philosophical newsletters. Maybe that’s because I often feel I should have been a philosophy major in college!
I believe philosophy can help us live more meaningful lives and build better connections and communities as well. We just need a framework of philosophy that fits us.
Maybe you’re thinking when I mention philosophy that it is not practical, nor does it solve any relevant questions anymore.
We have science, right? We have data and all kinds of intelligences from which to make decisions.
However, my lens says philosophy is indeed useful. It’s also important.
Maybe philosophy is even more useful and important to the average person in the 21st century because of all the quandaries we find ourselves in and the decisions we’re called to make each and every day.
So what is philosophy and what does it give us?
Philosophy is the inquiry into our understanding of reality, knowledge, and how we should live. Bringing thoughts together and creating a belief system means weaving together a philosophy. When you make value judgments to determine what is good and what is bad, you are relying upon a philosophy.
The unexamined life is not worth living.
Philosophy matters, not just because Socrates said it does 🙂 It matters because at some point in our lives we must all ask and answer these questions for ourselves.
• What is true?
• Why do I believe it to be true?
• How should I live based on what I believe?
Think about it for a minute. If we fail to answer any of these questions, we struggle to find any sense of meaning or purpose.
This is why philosophy has an immediate and deep impact on our well-being and daily lives. We must, no matter our age or where we find ourselves on life’s journey, continue to find new sources of meaning, more fundamental definitions of identity and purpose, more useful principles for relating to the world.
Much of my work over the years (in the general categories of health, fitness, taking a holistic approach to creating a healthy lifestyle, creating habits that get you focused on what matters to you) has been in line with this. I’ve attempted to help people reevaluate their values and to define what matters to them among a flood of possible choices.
Many years ago a student called me an “attention whisperer” because I worked with her in turning her attention to what mattered so she could make the changes she needed to make to live a happier and healthy life.
This conscious choosing of one’s beliefs and values, one’s philosophy of life, has many personal repercussions.
When you think in terms of philosophy and choosing accordingly, it impacts your own mental and emotional well-being and determines the kind of footprint you leave in the world.
Have you noticed the people who make the greatest footprints tend to have clearly defined philosophical belief systems for themselves? I have!
So how do you DO philosophy?
I like to think of it as a philosophical reinvention. Or at the very least a philosophical check-up.
Practices such as meditation or journaling can be useful. Using these tools, we can re-evaluate our values and if necessary, shift our beliefs. We can take new actions to create a better life for ourselves…….…that is, we can DO philosophy.
A philosophy keeps us from feeling lost. Philosophy shows us principles to help direct our actions, to determine our worth and values, to direct our internal compass.
In circling back to why, as we roll into another year, I’m calling your attention to philosophy.
Here’s my suggestion.
Do you have a basic philosophy of life that guides your actions/choices?
Do you have sub-philosophies for different areas of life such as how you spend your time, what you spend money on, where you direct your energy be it work or play?
How about a philosophy that guides your relationships?
Creating philosophies as life-guiding principles may sound like a lot of work. Remember this, though………..ALL your actions are based on some philosophy that you picked up somewhere along the way, likely either from your family or culture.
So why not shine a light on your philosophies and get to know yourself better? It will make a difference in the years ahead.
Until next month,