In the Greek language, philosophy literally means the love of wisdom. Who doesn’t want to be wise? Who doesn’t want to have a deep understanding of the world around them and their relationships with others. It’s the wise among us who are respected, inspiring and have a way of navigating life effortlessly.
Thoughtful consideration of the knowledge imparted to us, by those who have gone before us, provides valuable insight into what has allowed human beings to thrive and continue to improve over countless generations. Their discoveries have been a source of awe and great motivation for many who have changed the course of history. All the very successful people I have read about attest to the importance of analysing philosophical ideas to help them determine what worthwhile path to take in life.
I have learnt to continue to challenge my worldview and not allow emotion be a veil over objective thought. Reading and listening to the thoughts of past and present philosophers have allowed me to make good choices, learn from mistakes quickly and develop a positive mindset. I even listen to these guys while bench pressing instead of other material which provide no long-term value to my life outside of working out. It’s my great time saving tip to become wise and physically strong at the same time (saying you don’t have time for either wisdom and sculpting your ideal body is really just a boring excuse).
Historical figures such as Plato, Socrates, Newton and others have discovered timeless truths, which are revered to this day. I believe every single one of us is a philosopher; we all have a unique understanding of the things that matter most to each of us. As a non-academic philosopher, I give my interpretation of life on this blog to add to or confirm our understanding of what I call human action and leaving a great legacy. However, as imperfect creatures, we’re prone to interpreting reality with a faulty premise. This makes the need to study philosophy evermore vital to push us in the right direction.
To live a life of significance, it’s important to consider the wisdom of others which can prove to be a shortcut to avoid common problems. For instance, when young children decide not to listen to their parents, when told not to touch a fire, which may lead to a premature end of life or lives. See why it’s imperative to learn about those who came before us to avoid costly mistakes? The wisdom can also provide effective solutions to life’s dilemmas.
Here are several reasons why you should make studying philosophy a priority in your life.
1. Challenge your opinions
The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates
There are facts that will never change no matter how much you try to deny them. It’s no good sticking to an opinion just because you believe it to be true when there’s clear evidence for the contrary. This a huge barrier to self-development.
Isn’t it beneficial to rid yourself of erroneous thoughts before it costs you at some point?
I remember spending very little time preparing a French speaking assessment, aged 15. I was convinced that had I developed the untouchable ability to speak French to a level needed to ace the exam. This was because I managed to mimic, at the time, a convincing French accent during Drama lessons, somehow sounding like Arsene Wenger (Arsenal Football Club Manager). I didn’t follow my teacher’s guidance to read around, way ahead of the assessment, in order to improve my vocabulary. As a result, I didn’t achieve the A-grade I desired because my speaking exam mark was extremely low as my vocabulary wasn’t up to scratch.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
After realising this fact, I began to be extremely thorough with my future exam preparation to ensure surprises didn’t creep in and lead to an undesirable situation. It changed my view on an important aspect of my life. I saw that success in any endeavour is not a one-time action, or arrogance regarding one’s abilities, but consistent effort to achieve mastery and life-long learning. Nonetheless, this understanding did lead to a problem of its own in the form of the tragic disease called perfectionism.
This change of view, over time, has helped me to make the most of the opportunities presented to me and I stopped taking them for granted. What an important lesson to learn! A lesson needed by many who don’t improve their lives due to a choice to remain in denial about their situation but then blame someone else for their current problems.
Essentially, learning philosophy helps you to challenge potentially incorrect dogma you may have been exposed to when you were reliant on another person for survival. Moreover, it will refine your point of view to be more aligned with objective reality.
2. There’s nothing new under the sun
If you jump off a cliff, you’ll always travel destination is downwards and never upwards or a horizontal straight line. You can’t expect to be a millionaire without hard work. Even if the millionaire status is inherited that person will still have to work hard to maintain it or he or she will lose it all at the snap of a finger.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. – King Solomon
The quote from King Solomon drove home for me the point that everything in life is consistent no matter what era we’re born into. Humans will continue to experience the same emotions, due to very similar triggers, share similar struggles and achieve success or lose everything with similar approaches.
The reason for such consistency in many aspects of our lives is due to a fixed state of universal laws. The world is not in complete chaos because we’re all forced to follow the rules to achieve an ideal life or even survive. The laws can never be broken unless a miracle occurs. If we deviate from these laws severe stress is applied to our lives which leads to unfavourable outcomes. Nevertheless, once we begin to adhere to the laws we can overcome adversity and get right back on track. The reason many people find themselves in crisis virtually indefinitely is due to unfamiliarity with these impartial laws or deliberate non-acceptance of them. There’s no way of evading these laws without facing the consequences. It takes consistent application of universal rules to lead a successful life.
No matter how we see things, the universal principles which govern our day-to-day affairs will always stand and will change for nobody. Many people have discovered this and have already been through the hardships of life. They have given their views on how to manage and overcome them. They have also given guidance on how to lead a successful life. Living a great and fulfilling life is no secret. We don’t always have to be the subject of painful experiences to learn lessons. Take the plunge into the world of philosophy and have the guesswork eradicated for yourself.
This awareness has helped me to develop the habit of always consulting others, more knowledgeable than I, before embarking on important work and even the most seemingly trivial of tasks (don’t worry, I’m not annoying). It helps me to master what I undertake and achieve results to a level far past my expectations. This is the essence of mentorship – we all need mentors or coaches at some point. You can start off by having philosophers as mentors for different aspects of your life. It really makes things easier and puts you one step ahead. Don’t waste the opportunity to tap into great minds and put yourself well on your way to leaving a great legacy.
Knowledge really is power.
3. Improves your judgement
The beauty of philosophical findings lies in the fact that they help to improve your judgement – a very important trait for your survival in what some call a big, bad world. It gives you a heads up for what may be in-store for your life. It will help you consider what kinds of situations to avoid, and how to avoid them, especially when you’re inexperienced. Inexperience is the bane of many people’s lives. You don’t have to end up losing your family or go bankrupt before realising what actions are unfavourable and stop practising them. Knowing how to handle your affairs at the earliest possible point can help you to avoid years or even decades of recovery. The only way to avoid this is by becoming wise no matter your age!
When I was 17, I made a decision to invest all of my money into running a network marketing blog because of fear of asking for some financial support from my parents. I assumed they would think my project would be pointless due to my lack of business experience. As a result, the project ended prematurely. Who knows what it could have become?
If I came across a quote, such as the following one, I would have certainly asked for help… a lot of it.
Asking for help doesn’t mean we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence. – Anne Wilson Schaef
Nowadays I’m not ashamed to ask for help when I really need it. Helping one another allows for a thriving human community. I will go as far as saying that not asking for help is a form of selfishness because you’re allowing your ego to stop you from enhancing your contribution, towards a worthy cause, to its fullest potential. It’s a huge reason why many people are not where they want to be, because the ‘I can do it all’ or ‘I’m afraid’ mentalities have prevented them from getting the external support required to take them to the next level.
Don’t let your dreams perish because of lack of knowledge. You have no excuse – the knowledge is all around you, tap into it and apply the tried and tested centuries old advice which pretty much guarantees positive results if you apply yourself to it consistently.
4. Builds confidence and self-motivation
Confidence is about showing certainty about something or having belief in one’s abilities. The reason why many people are unconfident is because there’s a point in everyone’s lives where they doubt that a certain favourable outcome, after a performance, will come to pass. What I have found in my own experience, and I’m sure everyone will agree, is that some days we’re confident and some days we’re not.
However, we can all choose to stay confident or unconfident.
Look at the following priceless truth:
Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better. – Barrie Davenport
Confidence is an asset that isn’t free; it must be developed and maintained otherwise you lose it. I believe it’s essential for us to remind ourselves of the outcomes philosophers have discovered when undertaking certain endeavours. This is what we should use to draw inspiration from. I find comfort in the fact that others have fought a similar battle to mine, overcome overwhelming odds and prevailed. The great ones and philosophers have documented and interpreted such feats to pass down to people like you and I so we don’t have to fear. It develops strength and courage to tackle obstacles in our own personal journeys.
Don’t allow yourself to be crippled by doubt but build your inner motivation from intelligent observations of others. This is what I do to overcome negative thoughts when all hope appears to be lost. Studying philosophy can definitely help you push past extreme negative emotions and bounce back after inevitable setbacks.
Lance Armstrong has helped to develop my mindset of never giving up, regardless of how difficult things may become, because I understand that all things work out for the best when one persists long enough.
Pain is temporary. It may last for a minute, or an hour, or day, or even a year. But eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit however, it will last forever. – Lance Armstrong
While completing my final year dissertation it got to crunch time. This drove a course mate and I to chant Armstrong’s rendition of ‘Pain is temporary’ when we began to procrastinate or planned to go to sleep when we couldn’t afford to. The pain was definitely temporary and the distinction I received for my work will definitely last forever as opposed to the pain lasting forever, if I didn’t give my all and then receive a grade which didn’t live up to my abilities.
5. You will become a reflective visionary
It’s important to reflect on daily decisions and major stages in our lives to ensure we’re making the most of each situation and not draw non-existent conclusions. This is a common cause of irrational fear, mental illness, dissatisfaction, heartache and even suicide. If only the victims of these unfortunate outcomes could have potentially avoided misfortunes or saved themselves by applying philosophy to their lives. We all have the ability to align our thoughts with an objective reality and make sense of things for our benefit.
Reading thoughts from highly esteemed figures of our past and present has pushed me to a mentality of consistent and meaningful action and always striving to ensure my views actually prove to be true. This has developed a pattern of behaviour which has allowed me overcome setbacks, take risks and not give into the unconstructive criticism of others who find pleasure in seeing the downfall of someone who is trying to make an impact with their life. These are some of the same people who create excuses for why their lives are a certain way and refuse to take action to better themselves, but will berate someone else who is trying to improve their life. As a result, I have a perfect understanding of my long-term vision and I can apply effective strategies to make the most of my life.
Here’s confirmation of my observation:
You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do. – Eleanor Roosevelt
If had I learnt this truth during my adolescence, I wouldn’t have cared about what people thought about my inclinations or passions. I would have started Legacy Means Everything years ago. However, after coming across the above quote, during my limited study of American history, I will continue to never take pointless criticism to heart.
What makes reflection an excellent exercise for me is seeing what others have said about important life topics. Part of my reflective process is to consider if a situation I encounter is a one-off or a common encounter. Using philosophy can help you become more thoughtful about how to deal with such occurrences. Use it to receive great support to aid your search for solutions, when you’re stuck, and prepare for life aspects which may come up time and time again.
Being able to reflect on what others have consistently considered to be the most important parts of life allows us to focus on the ingredients for a fulfilling life. It’s part and parcel of the recipe for leading an exemplary life which motivates and inspires others and exceeds your own expectations.
Isn’t this the life you dream of?
Philosophy helps you to find out what you don’t know so you can make wise choices and avoid or effectively deal with many of the problems that crop up over and over again in many people’s lives. I think philosophy should be an integral part of school curricular to help kids learn how to make informed decisions when voting in elections, make prudent financial decisions and stop many from becoming irrationally oppressed by fear. It will also help people deal with many other areas, we need to thoroughly appreciate, to live fulfilling and productive lives. It will give the youth the tools to navigate a life of success at an early age. I definitely would have greatly benefited from it when I was at school age!
I encourage you to deeply consider your thoughts on things you care about. I believe this is of upmost importance. Use the great power of philosophy to help you make wise choices. Once you make sense of your own reality you can then make a difference to your own life and someone else’s life. It’s through this process you gain the meaning and purpose we all crave in life. No matter how we see things, a consistent set of universal laws will always stand and will change for no person, hence why we must look for wisdom to make our transitions through life easier and bearable.
Many people have discovered the wisdom and have already done the hard work, so we can avoid always having to be subjected to painful experiences to learn crucial life lessons.
What do you do to make sense of your life? Comment below.
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Image credit: Philosophy / dakine kane / Flickr