Examine Life

The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

Relating closely to the essence of the blog, this quote is credited to Socrates who is recognized for contributions to philosophy and posing questions to his students that generated new insights and ideas.

In observing general social behaviours, talking to others, and reflecting on my own thought processes, I realized that the average lifestyle does not sustain a process of conscious consideration and decision making. During a seminar I attended, the speaker showed numerous examples of empirical evidence which demonstrated that our inherent strategy is to keep things simple (this leaves us open to be more easily influenced – but that is a concern for another day).

For many life decisions, it is not a make-or-break deal so skipping the examination for a more instinctive approach may be acceptable. However, even the little things add up: on a single day, choosing what to eat is a minor decision and we could happily indulge ourselves, but in aggregate, even that can have a big impact on health and quality of life. On a larger scale, we might fail to consider significant impacts that seemingly simple and quick decisions could have on our lives or we might take the fast way out of making more complex and critical decisions.

On the other hand, we encounter the problem that there is no room for such examination of every decision within our busy and complex lives. Many of our behaviours and decisions are reduced to reflex responses to the situations at hand. Personally, I see a need for myself to react fast frequently, as a career professional, consumer, and participant in social settings. But quick choices do not have to be bad ones. Self awareness and confidence are the key to making better decisions in any of these situations. I can still be quick and effective, if every little decision stands on a strong foundation of goals and principles:

Our conceptual framework, our lifestyle, our ideology, our climate of opinion, or our worldview is usually taken for granted as the intellectual ground that we walk on. But, sometimes, it is necessary to examine that ground, to look carefully at what we usually take for granted. If we are planning to construct a house, it is a good idea to investigate the ground we will build on, especially when something seems wrong—the soil is too soft, or it is on a fault and susceptible to earthquakes. This is often the case, too, with our conceptual frameworks; as soon as we look at them, they may seem to be soft, ill formed, perhaps in danger of imminent collapse, or liable to disruption by a well-placed question or confrontation with someone who disagrees with us.
An excerpt from The Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy by Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins

This quote from a beginner’s philosophy textbook speaks of the need for a foundation to stand on and live by. It should most definitely be an evolving one. An effective way to implement this is frequent meditation or personal reflection. We can take a step back at regular intervals to consider and update our philosophy, and analyze aspects of ourselves and our lives based on that. We can trust it to guide us for quick decisions and, for more complex decisions, we can use it as a conceptual framework to organize our thoughts. In this way, we are less likely to feel under pressure from a hurried decision and make the wrong one, or lose ourselves in a long, unchecked thinking process.

So, why did I choose to reflect on this quote by Socrates for the beginning of my blog? My key motivation for this initiative is to examine life and consider its possibilities. I see a need for a thought process and reflection. The unexamined life may not be entirely “not worth living” but it can be a messy accumulation of arbitrary choices and occurrences that sum up to a lifestyle that we never wanted.

Coming soon: more from my full collection of Quotes for inspiration.

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates

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Author: Matters of Living

I am exploring the world of blogging to find and share inspiration and insight on living life as best as possible.

14 thoughts on “Examine Life”

  1. Thanks for this well-considered post. I am a new blogger also, and am simultaneously surprised (and not) by how many of us are processing the meaning of a life well-lived out here in the ether, and I appreciate your bringing in classical texts to add to the conversation. I look forward to reading more from you!

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    1. Thank you. I am very excited about this new initiative I have taken on. Welcome to blogging. Please share your site. I was not able to find it through your profile.

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  2. It’s perfect time to make a few plans for the long run and it’s time to
    be happy. I’ve learn this submit and if I may just I wish to recommend you some fascinating issues or tips.

    Perhaps you could write subsequent articles regarding this article.
    I want to read more things approximately it!

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    1. This post is a personal favourite of mine and a big reason for starting this blog. I will reflect on it in the future for a new post to see if I am indeed achieving my mission. Comments and recommendations are always welcome! You can follow my blog and see new posts. The link to follow is in the bottom menu of the page. Thanks!

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