What is Philosophy? Philosophy is a way of living - a core belief system. Even though your core belief system may seem simple and straightforward compared to the complex theories of philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Martin Heidegger, you nevertheless are a philosopher in your own life. Your theories about the world, yourself, and other people are what give shape and meaning to your life. Your beliefs about everything from ethics and spirituality to money and love dictate how you live and what you value most.
So, when you find yourself in a quandary about something you have done, rather than analyzing the act itself, understand that the root of your action can be traced back to your system of philosophy. Your guiding beliefs are every bit as important in your life as Socrates' beliefs were in his.
This is why you may often find yourself resistant to the idea of incorporating new beliefs and theories from other people and outside sources into your life. After living with your philosophy for long enough, it is no longer something you even think about because it has become part of who you are.
But what if you aren't pleased with who you are? Generally, even those of us who claim to be happy with who we are will concede that there is some area of our lives that we would like to change in some way.
Well, this is where applying philosophy becomes so basic. Temporary change is something most of us are pretty familiar with. It's the kind of change that has its origins in New Year's Resolutions and the kind of change that serves as an impetus for us to go on a diet for a month to lose the seven pounds we gained in the last holiday season.
But what happens six months after our resolutions are written? And how happy are we with our weight six months after we went on our one-month diet? Are we still following through with our New Year's Resolutions and have we kept those seven pounds off?
The answer to both questions is usually "no", and those of us who have been in such situations generally blame ourselves for what we solemnly call "not following through".
The truth is, blaming ourselves for not following through is not going to help the problem. What we made were temporary changes, and we most likely did our best to implement those changes as wholeheartedly as we knew how. We simply did not know how to make a temporary change into a permanent change. And we are not alone.
Growing up, we aren't taught the difference between temporary and permanent changes. So, many of us don't consciously know the difference in the two. That is, we have no idea why some changes seem to be permanent while others only last a month, a few weeks, and sometimes only a day or two.
Well, have you ever heard of a man who has always struggled with his weight and seems to have finally gotten control of it speak of his experience? If so, you may have noticed that he often says something to the effect that it was when he realized that diet and exercise were not just a means to an end but actually a way of life that he was able to maintain a healthy weight.
In other words, his philosophy about food and its meaning in his life had to change. He had to change his core belief system -- his theories, if you will --about his relationship to food, fitness, his health, and his weight before he could change.
That is where lasting change begins -- within your core belief system. Ultimately, your destiny resides in the philosophy you choose to live by.
And this is why philosophy plays such an integral role in all of our lives -- who we are and who we become are and will be a direct reflection of the philosophy we choose to shape our world and our experiences.