Have you ever thought about your life philosophy? What is the mission of your life? Why are you here? What are your life goals? What is your approach towards achieving these goals? Whether you know it or not, you have a life philosophy. There is something within you that drives your thoughts and actions. The problem is by not articulating it, you are aimless and won’t reach your desired destination.
Let me make a case why having a clearly formulated life philosophy is an incredibly powerful tool for achieving your dreams, be satisfied with who you are, what you do, and with your surroundings. Simply, to have a good life.
In the early days, let’s say in the times of the Roman empire, philosophies, and religions competed for the same audience and tried to provide answers to very similar questions. Religions survived the test of time in the daily lives of people, while philosophies moved more to libraries and the academic sphere. Religions can provide the answers you seek on how to live a good life, but not always. Many major religions offer some sort of guidance on how to live your life, so you have a great afterlife. They often focus quite a bit on what happens afterward, when you die. Whether religion is the answer or not largely depends on your beliefs and how you interpret the teachings of a particular faith in your daily life.
Philosophy can do the same. Whether you know it or not, your actions follow some sort of moral code or code of ethics. It might be subconscious, but it is there. Something drives your actions and shapes your decisions. You may just not like what it is if you surface it. By having a clearly stated life philosophy, you not only have a direction, but you also understand who you are and, who you strive to be.
What are the attributes of a good life philosophy?
A personal life philosophy is an amalgamation of your values, beliefs, and attitudes towards everything. It is a set of principles you decided to live by. It is the choices you make based on these principles that will drive your actions and the quality of your life.
It has nothing to do with whether you were born poor or rich, whether you have an education or not, whether you live in a hot or cold climate. It is your approach towards life that matters. You can base it on the beliefs and guidelines of a particular religion or official philosophy, but I would strongly suggest you tweak it in a way that is your own.
Philosophy of life provides guidelines on what things are worth pursuing and how to get them, and what things are not worth pursuing and how to ignore them. It needs to answer some basic questions.
What is my purpose in life? What is the direction I’m heading, or I want to be heading? To achieve anything, you need a sustained effort and keep moving in one direction. If each step you take is in a different direction, you will be more or less stationary or going in circles. Only by deliberately pushing in one direction for an extended period of time, you can get momentum and get to the finish line.
Does it align with my values? And what are my values in the first place? Elvis Presley once said, “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do”. Only by understanding what is important to us, we can get them. Finding out your core values is an important first step.
Does it provide clarity and simplicity? Any life philosophy needs to be easy to understand, very clear and unambiguous, and simple enough to be practical to use in everyday life.
Does it align with natural laws and principles? If the life philosophy or even your values and life mission don’t align with natural laws, you will struggle and won’t achieve your life goals. Natural laws don’t necessarily mean laws of physics, but also ethics, logic, and psychology. They apply regardless of you, and fighting them is just a waste of energy.
Does it provide a moral code that tells you what is right and wrong? It is often a set of no-nos that will drive the moral code. For example, I strongly believe in freedom and in every human being having the freedom of choice. However, I also realize that for this to work, there need to be some constraints and so I subscribe to the notion that “your freedom ends where freedom of someone else’s begins.” For me, there is a no-no, “don’t trespass on another’s freedom.” I understand that there are those who fight this notion and take it into absurd extremes, but for me, it boils done to one word, “respect.”
Part of my moral code is to respect others. Respect their freedom, their opinions and beliefs, respect them as human beings. If I want to listen to music, I can make it really loud to enjoy it. But because of my moral code, I know I wouldn’t enjoy it. I know it would be annoying to others, it would violate my moral code and I would feel bad, so I just don’t do it and use headphones instead. That way, I enjoy the music while also respecting the freedom of choice of others. And it is not that I would care what others think, it is about me caring what I think, and about not violating my own values. True freedom is within us.
Does it provide a framework for how to deal with change and negative emotions? Good life philosophy provides a framework that can help you to deal with change and with negative emotions. Both of these are part of life and often happen without us expecting them. Change is inevitable. Negative emotions too. It is only up to us to decide how do we deal with them. Everything changes, your principles and values, and your life philosophy can be the anchor that works as an unchangeable core and a source of stability.
Good life philosophy helps you to understand what a good life looks like to you. How do you define success? Not how society defines it. How you define it.
If you are curious about what my life philosophy is, it would take another article or maybe a book. In short, I believe that people should live useful lives. I also believe in focusing on and worrying only about things I have under control and that it is only up to me to be happy. Happiness is a matter of choice, not circumstances. I’m a follower of Stoicism, though I have tweaked it, so it gives answers and guidance for my introverted nature and for life in the 21st century.
As you are developing your life philosophy, make sure that it is not just a wishlist of things you believe other people value. Your life philosophy needs to reflect your values and beliefs. It needs to be something you can imagine living by.
Without having a clearly formulated personal life philosophy, you are in danger of wandering throughout life without direction, without satisfaction, being distracted by the trivial and unimportant, and essentially mis-living your life.
The life philosophy evolves as you evolve. Tweak it as you go. Allow the basic tenets of your life philosophy to guide your everyday life and step by step, shape your habits. By making your decisions in accordance with the life philosophy, standing for what you believe is right, not taking shortcuts, and not making too many excuses, you will develop new habits. And these new habits will develop you. You will gradually become someone who will live his or her life according to their values and feel deep satisfaction and joy of living. You will find tranquility and happiness.
What are your thoughts on the topic? Do you have your own personal life philosophy? How does it help you in your daily struggles?
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