At the start let’s address the “elephant in the room” i.e. a philosopher and over-thinker is not the same thing which many people assume. Philosophy in the simplest terms can be explained as an evaluation of the knowledge already available with a more meaningful perspective.
Hence, if you are looking forward to developing a personal philosophy then firstly you will have to detach yourself from common opinions and expressions. To draw an example “while doing something only focus on why you want to do it rather than thinking whom or what you might influence.
In simplest terms Aristotle described it the best way i.e. “it is the mark of an educated mind to hold two conflicting ideas in his head without accepting either.
In literary sense, philosophy has been derived from two Greek words, Philo (love ) and Sophia ( wisdom). To philosophy can be interpreted as a love of wisdom and a philosopher is someone who “wants to be wise”. The knowledge pursued by a philosopher is more thoughtful rather than being quantitative. It is about how life and society actually work rather than how it should be. It’s the wisdom you acquire through experiences and perceptions.
In his book ‘philosophical dilemmas’ by Phil Washburn, he points out some of the basic questions that shape a philosophy which is as follows:
- What kind of being am I?
- What is to be human?
- What is the best way of life?
- What should I have?
- How I am related to the surrounding people?
- And how should society be organized?
- How can I find answers to these questions?
- What I can know with assurance?
- Does religion or other knowledge provide the answer?
- Does God exist?
But it’s not a standardized process and while the author has some excellent ideas you can still seek your wisdom in your own manner. But it’s not just some random thought process rather you can start by evaluating your own perceptions about yourself, society, god, religion, relationships, and so on.
Every conscious being has a philosohy. Individual philosophies can be categorized in simple, developing, or well-developed. “A personal philosophy is in its crux a fundamental and integrated understanding about your own existence and your relationship to all related issues.” But, Personal philosophy is not a destination instead it’s a journey where you learn and keep evaluating; same as life itself.
In this context, one might really ask, “then how we can formulate a philosophy to live by if it’s going to take entire life!” Well, not the entire one but the basic ideas will also take at least a few years to formulate.
You have to give yourself that much time from the day you have started to work on it as it will only get created through experiences and understanding. The day you decide to develop a philosophy the first step will be to be conscious about everything around you and how they are influencing you.
Philosophical thought is organized around many types of philosophies including:
- Axiology – the study of the nature of value and valuation, and of the kinds of things that are valuable.
- Ontology – the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.
- Aesthetics – the branch of philosophy which deals with questions of beauty and artistic taste.
- Ethics- the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.
- Logic- branch of study that concerns questions about reference, predication, identity, truth, quantification, existence, entailment, modality, and necessity.
- Metaphysics – the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, identity, time, and space.
- Political Theory – study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws
When it comes to creating a personal philosophy, feel free to go for more than one type of interest, and try to identify various patterns within different things. You will enjoy thinking through how to correlate them successfully.
If your interests guide you to a certain philosophy type, then try to learn the background history of your chosen philosophy, including readings from the key philosophers. You have to realize that You cannot be an expert in everything but you should recognize that there is great value in understanding the basics of what others have done.
On the other hand, the framework you have selected is a starting point. As you experience life, test it out and see what works for you and what doesn’t, it will take a better shape. As time passes and as you keep solving problems and assess the quality of the decisions you have made, you will be able to evolve from where you started into something inherent.
Apart from everything else, try to become a critical thinker. Keep track of where you have derived the basis for ideas, tenets, theories, etc., in your new philosophy. Being able to trace your theories back to their source will help you in developing them further.
Patience is essential because it may take you years to sort through all the discarded notions to find the treasure buried underneath. The time given to your ideas is healthy, as it allows you to keep evolving and to test your ideas by daily events. As time passes by you have to ask some pertinent questions, such as:
- What is the purpose of your philosophy?
- Do you want to apply it to all aspects of life or just a few?
- How your philosophy defines you?
- How your philosophy defines others?
- How will you define your philosophy to others?
- Is your philosophy helpful on a practical level, or is it Utopian?
- How do other philosophies fit in with your own?
Apart from some rare circumstances, most good philosophies will be apt to fulfill your basic needs. This isn’t a big concern since most of us are living well beyond the minimum threshold required to simply survive.
To be Happy………………….
Good life philosophies will make you feel great. Good and stable philosophies will keep you happy even in troubling circumstances. For example, it’s the philosophical wisdom of Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King that kept them going even in the most adverse circumstances.
Happiness can rarely exist without meaning. Good philosophies will give your life meaning and purpose, otherwise when pleasurable moments fade you are left with nothing.
Your life philosophy needs to apply in all situations and circumstances. Your belief in your ideas should last even after a breakup, death, or unemployment.
Introspection and being yourself………………
A life philosophy cannot be installed; it has to be created. Although many groups and affiliations package premade philosophies, the work of building a strategy for life is yours alone.
Be flexible with your philosophy…………………
Building a philosophy is an ongoing process of refinement, not an end result. Don’t expect to find a final answer, just increasingly better ones. Be Experimental with your philosophy: Philosophies need to be practical and should have an impact on how you think and what you do. Experiment with different approaches and see which connects best.
It’s okay to have conflicting ideas………………….
Do not fret to have two opposite ideas in your mind and evaluate both unless you one to the better one. There is no rush to be definitive all the time.
Have patience with your philosophy………………..
Process of refining a life philosophy will take time, perhaps decades.There are no best answers, just better ones.