Today, I discuss personal philosophies: how to determine what is good, pick the best foundations for your philosophy, and live according to what is ideal.
Table of Contents
- A Personal Philosophy Helps Define Your Life
- How To Create A Personal Philosophy
- 1) Your Philosophy Should Challenge You
- 2) You Should Pursue What Is Good
- What is good is sustainable and supports the long-term happiness of everyone
- What is good is virtuous
- What is good is challenging but meaningful
- 3) Look At Other Schools of Thought To Help Shape Your Philosophy And Action
- Your Personal Philosophy Will Not Satisfy Everything
A Personal Philosophy Helps Define Your Life
“With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” – Max Ehrmann
Humans are complex creatures. Without a personal philosophy, our actions become aimless as we seek to satisfy basic, animalistic desires. For example, having casual sex with multiple people enables an individual to fulfill sexual cravings. However, they will not achieve long-term stability, meaningful relationships, or connections deeper than the physical.
Therefore, a personal philosophy gives us two essential tools: how to rationalize our behaviors and how to define the purpose of our actions. In the example above, a personal philosophy would define sexual activity as something deeper than merely physical. Therefore, an individual may rationalize sex as an expression of love and love is voluntary and virtuous. Secondly, the individual would argue sex establishes a connection with a partner instead of a way to satisfy fleeting urges.
How To Create A Personal Philosophy
Choosing a personal philosophy involves challenging yourself, pursuing what is good, and finding inspiration outside yourself. Today, we’ll explore these three steps.
1) Your Philosophy Should Challenge You
For example, casual sex fulfills basic wants but offers no deeper meaning to life. However, many individuals view casual sex as “rebellious” or “empowering.” But our culture does not value long-term relationships. Thus, there is no rebellion. And nothing is empowering about giving in to your whims. Or failing to form stable communities that demand the best of you. Strangers you have sex with do not value you outside of your body.
However, if you say, “I will pursue a long-term relationship, even though it is difficult because it stabilizes my life and gives me a community.” Then you are giving a reason for challenging your desires.
You will always want what is immediate. Therefore, your personal philosophy should challenge you by pointing you away from what is comforting. Rationalizing vice only makes you weak and vulnerable. Instead, your philosophy should compel you towards virtue, so you are strong, dependable, and capable.
2) You Should Pursue What Is Good
What is the good? I would argue something is good when it benefits the virtuous, moral ends of the individual. From here, if we benefit the individual, we benefit the broader society.
I can’t account for what is good at all moments and at all times. However, I believe a few truisms work:
- What is good is sustainable and supports the long-term happiness of everyone. Therefore, marriage, with its focus on loyalty, self-control, and investment, benefits more than frivolous hook-ups.
- What is good is virtuous. Virtue is moral excellence expressed through our actions. For example, being courageous and patient during a tense situation helps you maintain control even though it would be easier to be petty and scared.
- What is good is challenging but meaningful. Easy solutions never work. We always have to do what is difficult but produces meaning. Eating junk food is meaningless because empty calories hurt the body. However, eating well is difficult but gives us better health, a longer life, a clearer mind, and so on.
Everyone benefits when your personal philosophy values good over vice. You will create sustainability, virtue, and meaning in your life and the lives of others. Therefore, ensure your philosophy points you toward what is good.
3) Look At Other Schools of Thought To Help Shape Your Philosophy And Action
“The only thing standing between you and your dreams is … reluctance.” – Carroll Bryant
For individualism, I looked at everything from Christianity to Objectvisim and economics. I studied Booker T. Washington, F.A. Hayek, Henry Clay Trumbull, and many others. To understand what I despise, I subjugated myself to the ramblings of idiots and sociopaths such as Karl Marx, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Fredric Wertham, and Sigmund Freud.
I didn’t agree with every school of thought on every little thing. But, the exploration helped me refine my personal philosophy. For example, with its valuing of self-esteem, self-ownership, and creation, Ayn Rand’s Objectivism served as the fountainhead for individualism. However, I disagreed with abortion, open marriages, and the devaluing of children. On the other, I utilized Christianity to understand the importance of generosity, patience, and gratitude. However, I disagree with Christianity’s metaphysics and God’s behavior in the Old Testament.
The goal is to round out your thinking with what others have already discovered. You do not have to reinvent the wheel or be a blind follower. But you must have humility. The better you are at adopting the good ideas of others, the stronger your personal philosophy will be.
Your Personal Philosophy Will Not Satisfy Everything
Your personal beliefs are not meant to be all-encompassing. Your personal philosophy helps you attain your best self. And such attainment will challenge you. Thus, you need philosophy to rationalize your actions, justify your suffering, and give your behavior a deeper meaning beyond pleasure.
Your philosophy does not have to describe the perfect behavior in all complex situations. It is not meant to substitute our legal or economic systems. Your philosophy is for you.
Lastly, your life is a journey. Thus, you will adjust your personal beliefs as time goes on. Do not be frightened by this adjustment. Just keep the above standards in mind as you age and learn.
Remember, without philosophy, life has no meaning. Do not suffer such a fate.
“Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
- Do you have a personal philosophy? What are the tenants of this philosophy? How did you come to these conclusions and values?
- What are some belief systems you find abhorrent? Why?
- Does your personal philosophy help you to become a better person?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.