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Living the Examined Life

November 15, 2011 0 Comments

As the days grow shorter, the nights longer, and only the most stubborn of leaves hold tight to their branches, my attention moves more and more inward. I begin to feel a stronger sense of connection to nature, to others, and — most importantly — to my Self.

Transitioning from one season to the next always acts as a great reminder for me to do a bit of mental cleaning. Cleaning that consists of examining my life and thoughts more closely and taking a fresh look at various habits and beliefs I’ve grown accustomed to while deciding which ones to nurture and which to let go of. 

The Examined Life
From the time Socrates first said, “An unexamined life is not worth living”, philosophers throughout the world have been discussing ways to make society a better place while actively examining and changing their own lives. 

Living the examined life is all about letting go of any and all things that no longer serves us — including relationships that have run their course. It’s about encouraging pause, taking inventory, and re-centering ourselves so that we can be refreshed, renewed, rejuvenated, and in a sense, reborn.

It’s a process of transformation… And one that I have found absolutely necessary to practice in living and creating my best life.

Encouraging Pause
“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought; this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.” — Norbet Platt

Regaining equilibrium involves being able to pause long enough to move our mind to a calm, balanced state. I personally find that the action of writing in my journal helps me to relax because it lets me have a place to safely put all the thoughts, ideas, worries, hopes, concerns, and dreams that have been rumbling around in my head.

Taking Inventory
“Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in every way conceivable.” — Italo Calvino, Journalist & Writer

Another tool which I use to create mental space in my mind is by taking inventory. This largely consists of:

  1. Placing my attention in the present moment
  2. Practicing gratitude for what I already have
  3. Reviewing various goals that I’ve created
  4. And focussing on keeping my dreams and passions alive

Concentrating on the here-and-now, applying gratitude, reassessing goals, and being persistent in realizing my dreams, all allow me a chance to clearly view my Self from a whole new vantage point and see solutions that were previously blocked. It also gives me an opportunity to readjust my sails if need be.

The main reason in examining my life at all is so that I can move to a place of clarity and knowing. When we are still-minded and centered we able to access answers that once eluded us. It is like Lao Tzu said:

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” 

That kind of knowing, wisdom, compassion, and ability to fully know who I am and what I want is exactly what I most desire to receive during my times of self-reflection.

Tips to Grow By
One thing that’s worth keeping in mind while living an examined life is to remember that your outer world is simply a reflection of your inner world. When things fail to go how we expect them to in our outer life, it’s due to the fact that our inner life isn’t going well and needs attention and adjusting.


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