Booking under: Keith
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
So uttered Socrates before his trial and death, as recorded in his student Plato‘s Apology. This quote has always resonated with me, as I’ve always been fascinated by the “big” questions – What determines right and wrong? Why be good? What on earth are we here for? Where are we going after life here?
August’s theme, “Contemplate the heavens”, is therefore the perfect chance for me to explore these ideas deeper. What are the things I can do to further explore “deep” questions of life? And how does that help us find meaning and happiness?
1. Keep a gratitude notebook
It was a pleasant surprise to see this being one of the items recommended by Gretchen this month. The funny thing is, I did keep a gratitude journal detailing the 5 things I am grateful for each day. Near the end of last year, I came upon this article that described how writing down the things we’re thankful for each day is beneficial to productivity, creativity, and health. I also tried the “idea machine” part of the article and wrote down 10 ideas each day (most of them are pretty crap).
As you might have guessed, keeping up with such a habit became hard, and I’ve stopped it for a few months already. But having read Gretchen’s sharing on this topic, I’m ready to start it again. To make sure I stick with it, I won’t attempt to bit off more than I can chew. I’ll record 5 things I am thankful for each day, and won’t go on to attempt the idea machine part (yet). As I remember from before, doing so should have a marginal but noticeable effect on my day-to-day happiness.
2. Imitate a spiritual leader
I’ve never really considered myself as having a spiritual leader. I see my pastors as men and women of wisdom with a heart for people, following the example of Jesus – a teacher (but arguably not an innovator) of moral principles who also represents, to many, the only connection to the God. Although I come to see many of Jesus’ principles as correct, I am often interested in exploring other points of views, and understanding what other thinkers have had to say on the deep questions of life.
As mentioned last month, my favourite philosopher is David Hume. Beyond his many contributions to philosophy, history, economics, and other fields, Hume was simply a jovial and benevolent man. He was good-humoured and not afraid to take great pains to help others. He was deeply interested in achieving philosophical understanding, made breakthroughs on a number of philosophical topics, but always kept his “feet on the ground” – remaining highly engaged in civic and political life. Perhaps no quote better encapsulates Hume’s view on the importance of living an examined, but active, life than his own: “Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.”
With that said, I will continue to read and study Hume’s works in addition to my daily devotionals. I aim to follow the advice of these great figures,to love my neighbour as myself while demonstrating sympathy – which Hume took to be at the heart of our behaviour as moral beings.
Two things for me then, as we kick off the month of August. I will record 5 things I am thankful for each day (including you for reading this blog!) and continue to read and study Hume’s works in addition to my daily devotionals. I’m excited to see what Nicole thinks of this topic, so check back with us next week as she shares her point of view. So what about you? What do you take to be some of life’s bigger questions? What is your take on these questions? Who is your spiritual or philosophical inspiration? Sound off and let us know!