2021: A Life of Virtue’s Greatest Hits

Featured

I started this blog in 2019 as a way to explore topics and ideas that interested me. It was my attempt to search for meaning, and to connect ideas of philosophy, spirituality and psychology to the issues that we face in the modern world.

Connecting with readers and engaging in discussions with the readers and fellow writers I met along the way is the icing on the cake.

If you attempt to discuss deep philosophical ideas with family or friends, at a party per say, people will usually think that your a bit odd or peculiar. Some will laugh with bewilderment, thinking that you are just trying to ‘pull their leg.’ Others will usually try to change the topic of conversation or quietly escort themselves to the bar.

After all, what can be better than a strong drink to take your mind of the existential predicament of human existence? Make that a double shot of whiskey please.

So, I am grateful to you dear reader for taking the time to read my articles. You make writing these articles a whole lot more enjoyable.


Here are my top 5 most read articles in 2021 based on viewership:

1. Expanding Circles: Spiritual Exercises as a Bridge Towards Cosmopolitanism: A reflection on the interconnectedness of life on earth.

2. The Polarization Series: A Look at our Moral Foundations A look at how to have more constructive dialogues with those who you disagree with.

3. WonderA poem I wrote on awe and wonder I find in the natural world.

4. Lessons from Taoism: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times – Key themes and lessons from the ancient philosophy of Taoism- naively summed up in one sentence “just go with the flow.”

5. Hope – A poem on what keeps me grateful and optimistic in times of uncertainty.


Have a happy and healthy new year. Here’s to a 2022 filled with mindful reflections and engaging discussions.

Best Regards,

Andrew


Featured Image Source: Pexels Free Photos

The Unmasking of Beauty Within the World

Featured

In February 2021 I penned a poem on hope. I was looking for motivation and inspiration in the midst of the uncertainty that has clouded our times. Alone in a forest near my house, starting at the snowy covered trees, I reminded myself that the beauty of this world is indifferent to human affairs. It is eternal and ever present. It will provide and nourish our spirits when we have been led astray. All that it requires is the cultivation of our attention. That we are present to the complex intricacies that make up our everyday experience.

Wonder and awe fill my being when I contemplate the grandeur and sheer mystery of our universe. I am intertwined in a myriad of interdependent relationships, related to ancestors and species of the past, many of which I will not know or even have heard of. The human species have existed for 250,000 years in a universe that is estimated to be over 4 billion years old.

There is a kind of solace and comfort provided to me from this vantage point. A wider perspective can be uplifting and make us feel grounded. The importance and stress that we place on seemingly trivial things begin to fade away. We are all part of a much bigger web of life which will endure long after we perish.

The spotlight shines away, egotism recedes as I recognize the shared fate which bounds us all together.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As I am writing this article, a cardinal flies past my bedroom window taking refuge in a tree in my backyard. I momentarily pause, and look closely with reverence. I’ve never seen a cardinal in the winter. But then again, it may have been that I was never really paying attention to the world unfolding right in front of my eyes.

Its bright red feathers reflect against the white glow of the snow-covered tree, radiating across the sky.

I don’t really know what the future holds, in many ways it is unpredictable far beyond the confines of human control. I am aware, however that the presence and attention I give to the present moment is the gateway to the beauty of the world – the path towards hope. The omnipresent light is always available to us. What we decide to focus our attention on is a choice that is within our control.

As the bird flies away into the receding horizon, I am reminded of the poetry of Emily Dickinson,

"Hope" is the thing with Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

 Source :Poetry Foundation

Featured Image Source: Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Search for the Good Life

Featured

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination

Carl Rogers

In our day to day lives, many of us are preoccupied with completing the tasks on our never-ending to-do lists. Life quickly passed us by but we rarely take the time to reflect and contemplate on the deeper questions of our existence. When asked what do we want to get out of our lives, many will respond with the vague answer “I just want to be happy.”

However, when pressed on what this exactly means, we give generic answers that lack any real substance. Happiness is often conflated with pleasure and feelings of contentment. What comes to mind is the smiling couple we see in Hollywood romances or the slick well dressed business man racing down the street in a flashy sports car.

We soon realize that the excitement and rush that we get from pleasure quickly fades.

 Trying to pursue a life dedicated to pleasure is like running on a treadmill. It always leaves us dissatisfied and desiring for more.

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle had a different conception of the good life which he called eudaimonia. Although loosely translated as ‘happiness’, the term points to something akin to human flourishing. Eudaimonia, is not a temporary fleeting experience, rather it is a lifelong project. It is the result of working towards self-actualization and realizing your full potential.

Human wellbeing requires us to strive for excellence as well as pursue and cultivate virtue. Just as an athlete who wants to improve their performance needs to train, a person who wants to become virtuous must to perform virtuous acts. For instance, someone who is courageous is an individual who acts courageously whereas an individual who is humble is one who exercises restraint and avoids egotism.

It is through acts of goodness, virtue and excellence that we experience contentment and happiness.  

As ‘social animals’, Aristotle argued that we ought to utilize our distinctive talents and gifts to benefit our broader community – to enhance the common good. One’s role as a human is not only to act upon your gifts but to contribute to the flourishing as society as a whole. This view differs from individualistic versions of the good life which can often focus on satisfying a narrow set of materialist desires.

In the final analysis, Aristotle’s view of a life well lived requires active participation and the development of habits to be the best version of ourselves.

So, what is your idea of the good life?


This article has been adapted and was originally posted on the Pointless Overthinking blog: The Search for the Good Life – Pointless Overthinking

Image Source: Pexels Free Photos