Why You Need to Know Your Philosophy of Life

Last week I wrote about what you have in common with others, by demonstrating how normal you are compared to me.

At the very least, I showed that if you hate sunshine, don’t have kids, or hope never to retire, you’re not alone.

This week I want to focus on difference — specifically, differences between your philosophy of life, and someone else’s.

Why does this matter?

Everyone has a philosophy of life. You have one whether you’re conscious of it or not.

Your philosophy of life has a direct impact on your sense of meaning and purpose — things I know you care about.

The Meaning of Life

It’s hard to find meaning or purpose in life if you’re not clear on what life itself means to you. You could accidentally get caught up in someone else’s idea of the meaning of life, or of what your purpose should be.

Check out some common philosophies and see if any of them fit for you.

If life is a journey, you’re a traveler here. You’re collecting experiences until, ultimately, you find your way back home. If you learn and expand your horizons, you’ve succeeded in life.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

If life is a challenge, you’re being tested. You’re here to prove your mettle, and the goal is to experience your own ability to overcome. If you endure hardship and survive with your head up, you’ve lived a good life.

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ~ Moliere

When life is a canvas, you express yourself and your creativity through how you live. Your goal is to make your very existence into a kind of cosmic art. Your purpose is achieved through your uniqueness.

“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.” ~ Danny Kaye

When you see life as a project, the very act of living is full of productivity and engagement. You’re here to build something before you leave. Your meaning and purpose are found in your life’s work.

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” ~ Aristotle

If life is a game, you’re here to beat the competition and win the spoils available only to the winner(s). If you can have fun doing it, so much the better!

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” ~ Albert Einstein

These aren’t mutually exclusive, of course. Do any of them resonate with you? If not, how do you look at life?

Me, I view my life as a project. My job, as I see it, is to bring whatever gifts I have to the world before I die. That’s the meaning  of my life, and my purpose.

… That, and to predict the next Bachelorette on CBS’s show of the same name.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 comments on “Why You Need to Know Your Philosophy of Life

  1. Cheryl says:

    What a great post. Not something I’ve ever considered putting into a framework for life before. But I can see how valuable it could be. If we’re really connected with why I believe I’m here, it could help me create healthy beliefs & draw on their strength; but also stand up for myself when feeling my boundaries are being infringed upon. So my initial instinct is that my life is also a project – to learn how to take care and honor this opportunity I’ve been given of just being here; and also to make the lives of other people here, a better one.
    What catches me here, is that although in my best moments, I can ‘live’ in that space. I feel productive and motivated; happy and connected with those I love. In my worst, I believe that life is a challenge. I feel tested. Life feels arduous, heavy and I feel alone and like no-one cares. It would be nice in those heavy moments to somehow pull some of my other philosophy into my heart.

    • You’re so right, Cheryl. Life doesn’t always feel a particular way.

      As a fellow life-as-a-project person, I guess I feel that every project, even a wonderful one, has its ups and downs. And even when life is a game, a journey, or anything else, there are times when things can get hairy.

      Your comment helps to underline the fact that no matter what else it might be, life is variable. Thanks for your perspective.

  2. jenny says:

    I wonder how much our childhood experience shapes our philosophy of life?… I feel like I am here to learn…its the only way I could deal with my difficult experience of growing up ,but perhaps I perpetuated my difficulties into adulthood with this philosophy.. perhaps now it may be desirable for me to take on a new philosophy? hmm… Interesting !!

    • Jenny, thanks for stopping by and yes, you raise very interesting questions. How much DO our childhood experiences shape our philosophies? Any thoughts … anyone?

      You’ve also highlighted another perfectly valid philosophy of life: It’s a school. We’re here to learn, and life serves us lessons until we understand. I like that.

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