My Philosophy About People, Purpose and Psychology
Publishing a philosophy about life feels really arrogant. After all, "Who am I to have a philosophy?" But all of us have a philosophy, published or not. Throughout life we build our own view of the Truth (with a capital T), as seen from our own perspective. These individual ideas of "truth" come out of thousands of influences: parents, friends, teachers, books, television, little events and large ones, all register an influence that is unique. It is inevitable that we create an overall philosophy about self, others, and the world. The ideas we form--and believe--may serve us well, or create challenges, and suffering in life.
Having a philosophy of life is about making sense of the world, and for me, it is about relying upon good science. It's not always comfortable however, because taking a scientific perspective is like living on shifting sands. I'm aware that new discoveries may require me to accept changes in what I previously thought was true. I take the stance, "This is what we know right now, but I remain open to the influence of new research”.
However, some positions seem pretty solid to me right now. They are:
- Within each human there's a "three-pound universe" (the brain) through which every nuance of perception, value and belief is filtered and configured in ways known only to that one individual.
- Even when we know a great deal about a person, there will still be many influences we cannot know. Humans are incredibly complex.
- Human change is possible! The right skills can lead to more effective thinking and behavior.
- Motivation and self-regulation lie at the heart of purposeful change.
- Deliberate-practice-and-the-ten-year-rule lead to integrated and lasting changes.
- Meaningful relationships, and meaningful work (whether paid or not) are necessary to achieve life satisfaction.
- Most of our conflicts (about ourselves and with others) come from our own "blind spots."
- Psychology is poorly understood by the general public. It is "the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes."
- Practitioners of psychology have the potential to do great good - but also, as history has shown, can do great harm.
- I am more convinced than ever of the value of positive thought and emotion, taking comfort in others, sleep, relaxation, and meditation, and a vital absorbing interest.
Two quotes that I have carried with me, and have deliberately attempted to practice over time and circumstance sum up my philosophy:
"To do good one must do it in the Minute Particulars. General Good is the plea of the hypocrite, the scoundrel, and the flatterer." -- Paraphrased from William Blake
"I am kind to those who are kind. I am also kind to those who are unkind, thus increasing kindness in the world." -- The Tao te Ching
The philosophy of these quotes is easier said than done.