Why Bother Living an Examined Life?

To live a well adapted life, one that is congruent and aligned with our morals and values is not for the faint of heart. Without a doubt, living well is an ongoing work. Without doing the work, our lives become incongruent.       

  Stable Makes Us Able

An unexamined life is one that is tossed to and fro by our crazy culture, controlled by unreasonable expectations from self or others and allowing those voices from our past to reign in the present. Living an unexamined life is living a debilitated life. 

We cannot and do not have to scrutinize, analyze or investigate every jot and tittle throughout every moment of everyday life. To do so would paralyze us. We’d like a friend of mine who once said, “I feel like a centipede, who has fallen down into a ditch, and I don’t know which leg to move first to get out.” Over analyzing can be as damaging as not analyzing anything at all.

What then do we study, consider and inspect about ourselves? How do we measure our foolishness? How do we know if we are being wise? Who can we trust? 

It all begins with us. 

An examined life starts by considering our thoughts. Which notions cause those well worn, unproductive ruts in our thinking? If our thoughts are worrisome, false, inauthentic, focused on what others might think of us, or consumed by how I can make everyone accept me, then terror reigns and exhaustion rules. 

On the other hand, to live without fearing what others think of us, to recognize the thoughts that create new pathways, and to let go of those ideas that make us anxious, produce a sense of liveliness, lightheartedness and peacefulness. 

Considering that listening to our self-talk tells us a lot about ourselves. What do we say to ourselves when we make a mistake balancing our checkbook, forget a commitment, or lash out at a kid? Do we believe we are total losers destined for failure, nonredeemable or a complete idiot? If so, I might want to take a closer look at what I say to myself. Would I say those same words to my friend, my spouse or even my dog? Probably not. So why do I say them to myself? Condemnation is not something that is compatible with self-improvement, but taking time to inquire within will help to improve our lives, our outlook and our actions. 

Why bother living an examined life? Examining our lives is a work in progress. It is a way to practice giving ourselves what we need; gentleness and kindness and room to improve. 

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