“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” William Shakespeare — Hamlet
We learn early on in life that we need to ask questions in order to get answers. As children, our needs are much more basic, closer aligned to the rest of the animal kingdom. We need love, food, shelter, and so on. In general, it takes very little for a child to be content. In a loving environment they are encouraged to play and explore and experience.
Children are not concerned with what other people think of them. They are only looking for things that make them feel good, things that are fun, things that keep them active and entertained.
Childhood philosophy is pretty simple. Eat. Sleep. Play. Live.
As we get older, though, we start to develop a more complicated philosophy. The unconditional love that (hopefully) we have received from family is not the only love we experience. Love gets complicated, nuanced, and comes in many sizes, shapes, forms…and conditions.
As we grow older we start needing more and more validation from outside resources. You have to have that certain something that is undefinable to attract a lover. The right combination of skills, who you know, and how you sell yourself are necessary to get a job. Sometimes, to make an impression we need to acquire and keep certain things for display — the car, the house, the clothing and so on.
Yet through it all, everything we do is a part of us looking for something. Seeking meaning in and for our life, and taking steps to find it.
In truth, the answers lie within.
We are looking for something — our personal philosophy of life
Philosophy is often something we think of as this in-depth, deeply thought-out notion of how life works. But the truth is, every single one of us has a personal philosophy of life.
There isn’t a single person on this planet who does not hold some beliefs. I am not talking about religion and spirituality, I am talking about the things we know and believe about life. And as similar as our beliefs may be, they are all totally different from one another.
For example, take the practice of religion. In theory, a religion is a group of people who share a similar belief system that come together as a community. Despite being individuals, their shared belief in, say, a given deity, brings them together to form a community.
A community brought together to share in certain beliefs. However, all-too-often these focus all attention without, rather than looking within to understand the self. Though outside influences can help us to grow and change and learn, they cannot find that something we are looking for.
There are many who will tell you they have the answer. And they probably do — but it is THEIR answer. Your answer is not going to be the same. Similar, maybe, but not the same. That’s because you are not the same.
Have you ever noticed how the most fervent people, the loudest zealots, all seem the most lost and confused? The reason is because they have become so reliant on an outside force for answers that they haven’t a clue about their own philosophy.
It is surprisingly easy to get lost in your own head. This is why mindfulness is so important. Lacking in being mindful and aware means that the something everyone is looking for becomes harder and harder to find.
It’s not hard, but it can be uncomfortable
Because of the stigma that is still attached to mental health, people tend to ignore it. I am not saying that everyone suffers from depression, anxiety, PTSD or something else, BUT everyone has experiences with it. Yet rather than investigate and confront it, we tend to shunt it away and move on, without having dealt with it.
What’s this got to do with personal philosophy? Quoting Shakespeare again — “This above all — to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” — Hamlet
If you do not know yourself, if you are not mindful and aware of yourself, can you know your own philosophy, and be whom you most desire to be? It is for this reason that we need to look within, not without, for the answers.
That is the entire reason for mindfulness. When you are mindful it is not about the world without, it’s about the self within. Being aware of the self is questioning what you are thinking, how and what you are feeling, and taking intentional actions from there.
Our personal philosophy is borne of mindfulness. Being aware of the self, and recognizing the importance therein, is how we can get real, useful answers to help in finding the something we are all looking for.
I do not give answers, I only provide ideas for the questions we can ask. In part, I share this because I need it, too. I can maybe influence you to look inside yourself more, but only you can decide to choose to do so.
We are all looking for something. Have you looked inside yourself to figure out what your something may be?