‘Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for fewer problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom’Jim Rohn
When I was studying nutrition, I learned it’s far more than just what food we eat but more about our relationship to food. The scope of change necessary to achieve better health is far greater than what foods are healthy or unhealthy.
To become healthier is about how we live, and that involves our attitudes towards health, diet. How much we care about our health, what we a ready to give up on, our willingness to change. Our values and beliefs play a role in what we eat and why.
At the same time, I was learning the same lesson trying to address my anxiety through psychology and philosophy. It’s less about treating the illness more about treating the patient.
Like fad diets, simple quick-fix solutions are often not enough. The answers arrive by looking at life in a much bigger, more holistic way.
I’m more a believer in the adage ‘Solve of the problem at the source at rest will fix itself.’
What I learned in my study is a far more significant point. Happiness and health have more to do with changing one’s attitude. Because sooner or later it always involves what you believe about the world and yourself.
‘If you know the way broadly, you will see it in everything’Musashi
Our beliefs, values, and attitudes show up in our lives and the suffering, ill health, habits, and homes. We write ourselves onto the fabric of the world.
Creating lasting change for the better involves a lot of introspection and help from people you trust. To make change consists in changing your beliefs to something more conducive to growth and health.
A good example is Carol Dweck ideas on mindset. The belief you can’t change and grow results in a desperate need to prove yourself all the time, to fit in and be accepted.
Whereas in a growth mindset, skills and knowledge are developed through practice. You focus more on the work and accept failure as part of the path towards mastery.
The psychology Dan Gilbert makes a similar point. He calls it the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time.
As he puts it: ‘Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.’
Another example is from Martin Seligman on Learned Helplessness. It’s an attitude that when faced with persistent failure, we believe change is no longer possible, so we no longer try.
‘The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes’William James (1842–1910)
These are just examples of our beliefs affecting how we show up in the world, they become self-fulfilling prophecies. Our attitude colours our work, our relationships, health, meaning, finances and more.
What we believe about ourselves and our place in the cosmos is our guiding philosophy. Attitude doesn’t determine success, but it does influence our chances.
Philosophy is not just a set of abstract propositions, but an attitude towards life, what questions to ask, not just the answers. How to live a life well-lived, and what that means.
If you understand yourself better and the world, you can use those beliefs to guide you in any walk of life. You learn to live more skillfully and in ways that offer a better chance of success and happiness.
Philosophy is everywhere because we only have a finite amount of time.
The big questions come out:
- ‘Why am I here?’
- What’s my purpose in life?
- What matters to me?
- What’s most important in my life.
- Where do I find meaning in my work?
We need more people to think about the bigger picture. To examine what are the causes and conditions of our suffering and ways to address it.
We can often brush aside big thinking philosophy believing it’s the subject of deep thinkers and obscure thought. The point I made above shows that philosophy infuses everything we do. With the practice of introspection, we can better understand our motives, hopes, and fears. Through such insight, we get to make better choices and change our lives for the better.