I am a philosophy nerd. Of course, most people are not as actively engaged in philosophy for its own sake as I am. I get it. I spent many years focused on just living, without much philosophy at all – or so I thought. Still, we all have a life philosophy, whether we know it or not. Wouldn’t it be better if we actively chose it ? Think about it.
If we have not actively created our life philosophy, we exist in one two possible scenarios:
Suppose you are on top of the success ladder. You are living the American dream, as it were. You have an attractive spouse, a nice house and car, travel the world, and a substantial income from your thriving business, yet you’re strangely dissatisfied.
Suppose you feel stuck, blocked or adrift. You see others who seem to have everything you want for yourself, and if you could only figure out how to get those things (love, money, health, or passion) you would feel the satisfaction you are lacking.
Both scenarios have a common thread of feeling unfulfilling.
Why? Could it be that the someone else’s dream of success isn’t your dream? How can one version of how to live life appeal to everyone? You’re an individual.
It’s likely that you’ve never given the idea of a life philosophy much thought. It doesn’t get mentioned in school. Your parents probably never broached the subject. A political philosophy, parenting philosophy, business philosophy or a religious philosophy are only slivers of what makes up your life philosophy.
At its core, any philosophy encompasses our beliefs. It frames how we see the nature of existence, truth, meaning and about how we want to live our lives. So, our philosophy of life is a deeply personal decision. If you don’t decide for yourself, you’re stuck with the default version that everyone else is chasing. Rather than chasing after the standard version of success, it might be time to create your own. That’s what I did, and it became the foundation for my new book, coming out in January: Own Your Own Shift: The Power, Passion & Freedom to Be Unstoppable.
At the very least, you’ll be more excited when you get out of bed each morning. At best, you will find yourself buoyed with renewed energy and clarity you may never have felt before.
Create a life philosophy that makes your happiness and fulfillment a priority:
Educate yourself, about yourself. Sadly too many of us have learned more about how to focus on what others think, have and do than on ourselves, feelings, hopes and dreams. That is why our purpose in life is so important for creating our life philosophy. In my new workbook, Finding Your Purpose, I walk you through each necessary step with easy-to-understand exercises. Whether you use the workbook, or go it alone, you will want to:
Proclaim your passions
Discover your talents and strengths
Identify your values
Recognize your best self
Gently name your greatest fears
Envision your dreams
List your desires
Build a badass bucket list
Meet your heroes (at least, list them out)
And write out what you want to be remembered for
Look at where you have been. You already have a set of beliefs regarding what is valuable in life. How did you determine those? Who taught those beliefs to you? Did you pick them up from your friends? Movies? Teachers? Books? How was your current philosophy constructed? Then write them down. Look at whether those beliefs are making you happy, or miserable. If they are making you miserable, you have the ability to choose fresh beliefs! We actively look for evidence that what we believe is true, and discard evidence that contradicts what we believe. When we lay out our beliefs in black and white, we can consciously choose to “act as if” we believed something different, and see how our life changes as a result!
Determine what you want your life to be about. Will your life be about money and success? Altruism? Adventure? Family? Personal development? Will it be based on a religion? What matters to you?
What do you think is most important? Can you be happy with that decision? For example, you might believe that family should be the most important thing, but what if you don’t have a family? Or maybe you don’t even want a family to begin with. If you still want your life to be about family, how will you create a “family of choice” for yourself?
Many philosophers argue that there is no inherent meaning to life, which is just a fancy way of saying that you can choose the meaning of life for yourself and be just as correct as anyone else.
Start at the end. Imagine that you’ve lived a long life and you’re reaching the end. What kind of life do you want to look back on? What sorts of things do you want to have learned, achieved, and experienced? How do you want to be remembered? With the end in mind, how do you need to live today to reach that ideal ending? (I touched on this in #1, and have exercises on this in Finding Your Purpose)
Give it a try. Once you’ve found a way of looking at the world that appeals to you, take it for a test-ride. See if it suits you. Have patience while you’re on this journey. It may take time to become completely satisfied with new viewpoint. That’s the beauty of this adventure called life – you really have all the power in your hands.
Find like-minded people and discuss. While this is a personal journey, that doesn’t mean it has to be solitary. Bounce ideas off of others. You might gain an insight that makes all the difference. Be open and share your ideas.
Be playful with the process of developing a new way of approaching life. The best philosophy will bring you a sense of peace and purpose. If you’re feeling a bit disenchanted with life, change your perspective. You can choose for yourself what is most important in life. Create a game that you can win and enjoy along the way.