Do you have a philosophy of life? Most likely you do, even if you can’t easily articulate it or it seems like some odd jumble of assumptions and beliefs. Here are 5 big questions—and lots of smaller ones—to help you begin to craft and define your own.
Your philosophy is different from your values. Values are standards of behavior that define our expectations of ourselves; they are up close and personal, actively shaping our everyday lives.
Our philosophy of life, on the other hand, is foundational; it helps us make sense of the world to ourselves, helps us explain to ourselves why things happen the way they do. A philosophy of life can proactively provide a steady lens through which we watch what unfolds in ourselves and those around us. It is what we, like it or not, subtly pass down to our children.
Determine Your Philosophy of Life
1. Why does life exist?
Whether or not there are other life forms in the universe, scientists tell us that life in whatever form is a rarity, in terms of the expanse of the universe right now and from the standpoint of past and future of the universe. But why is there any life at all? Is it a creation of some higher-order spiritual being, or a favorable coming together of elements in the aftermath of the Big Bang? What responsibility do we humans have for the other forms of life around us?
2. Why are we here?
What are we, as humans, supposed to do with our lives? Is it a gift, a happenstance? Do we have free will to shape it, or is it determined for us in some other way? What makes a good life or a bad one?
3. Why are you here?
This is about purpose: What are you supposed to do with your life, however long it is? Do you believe you have a purpose, or as Buckminster Fuller said, “What is the one thing that only you can do, that no one else can do, because of who you are?” Do you have a contribution to make to the world?
4. What is your relationship/responsibility for others?
We are not alone. We are social beings; we have family, friends, acquaintances. What is our responsibility to them? What are the limits of our responsibility? What do we expect in return? What is our relationship and responsibility to the larger society, to those others we call strangers?
5. Why do bad things happen?
Why is there evil in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people, to any people? How do we decide what is evil and bad at all? Does badness have a purpose…or even happiness?
Difficult questions — heavy stuff. The purpose of these questions is to help you not simply swallow whole what you’ve gathered from parents and other important people in your life but an opportunity to define your own way of making sense of the world and your place in it.
Something worthwhile to consider…or is it?