As far as I can tell, everyone develops their own personal philosophy along the way. It is this which they base their lives upon, and that creates their moral code, ethics, and general approach to life.
Frequently, however, I believe few people are actually aware of this.
Philosophy is often looked upon as an abstract concept. The term philosophy, coined by Pythagoras, means questioning the fundamentals of existence, values, knowledge, reason, language, mind, and so on.
Put more simply, philosophy is the search for truth and understanding of our life experiences.
For a lot of people, a direct exploration of this is something they tend to avoid. They turn to known philosophers and such, like Aristotle, Confucius, Descartes, Emerson, and others and their ideas. Some turn to religion, some to science, and some to any outside influence which feels comfortable to them.
Yet along the way, I would argue that everyone will develop their own personal philosophy. Why? Because we are all unique individuals, capable of thoughts and feelings to a very different and complicated degree beyond the rest of the animal kingdom.
Look at the device you are using to read this. No other creatures on this planet have come close to the use of tools to create anything of this nature. This is direct empirical evidence of our thinking capabilities.
Yet because we can be so reliant on outside devices and ideas, we do not take advantage of what developing our own philosophy can do to make our individual lives incredible.
Mindfulness is the keystone
In architecture, the keystone locks the rest of the stones of an arch or vault in place. As such, the keystone of philosophy is mindfulness.
In order to develop a personal philosophy, you need to mindful and aware of yourself. Specifically, you need to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, because they are the stones that make up the vault that holds up the architecture of your self.
How do you practice mindfulness? Questions. The answers lie in asking questions. Lots, and lots of questions. Specifically, it begins with the answers which can be influenced, changed, and even to some degree controlled. These are questions of our thoughts and feelings.
What am I thinking? How am I feeling? What am I feeling? What do I desire to think and feel?
From here, you become mindful and aware of who and what you are. Partially because this is what brings you into the here and now. Partially this is because the question of the self is one of the main topics of philosophy.
In its simplest iteration, philosophy is a personal understanding of, and approach to, life. The people who get the things they go after, those who seem to be happiest and most successful, the people who live the fullest lives tend to know their personal philosophy.
Morality and spirituality
These two tenets of life are usually a part of your personal philosophy. Each relates to a very specific notion of the universe, and though they can work together, they hold different focus.
Morality is the determination of proper and improper. It is, as such, highly subjective. Often people look at morality as defining good and bad. But these, too, are highly subjective.
Overall, morality is basically your code of ethics.
There are certain moral codes that society expects us to follow. While these are frequently for the good of our society, they can get out of hand, and dictate a morality that is not right for everyone. For example, the morality of relationships. Not everyone is monogamous. Lots of people are wired differently, they have polyamorous relationships, and that is part of how they define their personal morality. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it shows where the subjectivity of morality makes the idea of a one-size-fits-all code utterly impractical.
Spirituality in this context refers to your immaterial belief system. Whether it is new-age, Buddhist, Judeo-Christian, Humanist, or what-have-you, your spirituality is completely unique to you. What you have faith and belief in that is unseen resonates for you in a different way than what will resonate for me.
Though not a part of philosophy, I want to address religion here. A religion, as far as I can tell, is a community created to share an overall spiritual and moral code. I am all for creating community, but it gets out of hand when the community attempts to force control over the overall society and its moral and spiritual codes.
One size does NOT fit all.
Morality and spirituality, though, are a part of your personal philosophy.
Your personal philosophy is personal
When you come to recognize your philosophy in life, it is important to acknowledge that it is personal. Yes, there may be aspects of it that you wish to share with the world, but know that some of what you believe others will not and cannot.
My morality, my spirituality, and my personal philosophy are unique to me. Though they are certainly built upon my life experiences, lessons learned, education and further learning, and beliefs developed over time, how I have assembled them into my personal philosophy only I can completely comprehend.
I have been sharing Pathwalking, the initial iteration of my personal philosophy made manifest, for over seven years now. While aspects have change, the core tenets remain the same.
However, this is the important thing to keep in mind. Even your personal philosophy is going to be subject to change. The Universe changes and evolves constantly. You also change and evolve constantly. As such, aspects of your morality, spirituality, ideas, interests, and overall personal philosophy are subject to change.
This may be part of why people don’t desire to become mindful of themselves. Because while you can know yourself today, and recall yourself before today, you will be different tomorrow. It may be subtle or not, but change will happen.
Change is good. When we are mindful of this, we gain the ability to influence and even potentially control change to improve not just our personal philosophy, but life overall.
Everyone has a philosophy for their life. Are you mindful of yours?