Sunday, June 18, 2006

Facing Anxiety

Just had another revelation while I was journaling this weekend. I was pondering about what makes me stop myself from doing the things that could change my life for the better, getting me closer to my dreams. The answer I came up with is that it boils down to one single emotion. Anxiety.

Think back to what anxiety feels like. The pain of rejected love, the sickness you feel when someone else gets that dream job, the death of your child, waking up to divorce papers on your bed.. these are a few scenarios that make us remember a gut-wrenching feeling that makes you wanna puke. These experiences imprint on us a permanent scar that affects our decisions later on.

Maybe we ought not to try and "get over" the feelings of pain. Time heals, but if something like this attempts to enter our lives again, we might be shying away from what could be the best thing ever. I have made a pact with myself to face my anxieties head on, and go after the things I think could make life beautiful for me. So what if I fail, so what if I get rejected, so what if I make a fool out of myself in front of the whole world, so what if I get hurt. Its so important to feel what you are feeling inside your heart of hearts. Running away from the prospect of anxiety is just a mere illusion of safety. Stay where you are and feel the truth penetrate your soul.

If you get hurt, feel the pain. Know yourself by facing your anxiety. The self-destructive behavior is to shy away from some emotion that you eventually have the power to control. The way to "get over it" is to face it and feel it, because if you run away, you will be caught and controlled by it. Go ahead and take that painful risk. You are the one in control.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The use for Philosophy

Continuing from the spirit of my previous post, I've come to realize that all the great philosophers of our time have had to deal with extraordinary circumstances in their lives. I've directly experienced the fact that triumph over adversity has been responsible for the greatness of any individual. It is highly unlikely that people like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela would have been the people they were if not for their adversities. Every challenge is an opportunity to claim your greatness. The lessons you need to learn come through the situations that life throws at you, sometimes when you're least prepared for it.

The question I'm trying to answer is this: how did philosophical thought come about? Socrates is known to be the first ethicist the world has ever known. His teachings were a response to his political trial and accusations of "corrupting the youth". Our troubles make us more philosophical, and one of the first questions we ask ourselves is "Why me?" I believe this question to the heavens, nature, God, or whatever you want to call it, has been the seed of the origins of thought.

A lot of students I've talked to say that there's no use to Philosophy. There's no proof for anything and conjecture is all you can succumb to. Its true! But individuals have become great because of their thought process and philosophies.

The ultimate philosophical question for me is "What is Real and what is right"? Philosophy might be useless and you might get lost, but ultimately you will find yourself in the questions you pose. Its no mystery why my tagline for this blog is Get Lost and Find Yourself. I truly mean it.

As human beings we posess a natural tendency to question, but there are few who stick to it. In fact, as we live out our days, we tend to resign to our fate. That's right, most people have already resigned before they even get to their first job.

How can we get to that point of questioning everything? You might laugh when I say this, but the way to start is to observe children. They are the most pure and non self-conscious beings. Yet, they differ from animals because of their inquisitiveness and curiousity. When I play with my little niece and nephew, I am more aware of my potential as a person. Children are the best role models because they are genuine, love to enjoy each moment, they wonder about a lot of things, and love asking questions because of their insatiable desire to know. Its high time we use our intellectual prowess to realize our child-like potential.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Thinking about Thinking

Reflection is not only about debating specific issues, questions, or ideas. The reflective exercise should also include thinking about how you think in the first place. Knowing how you think means that you are close to knowing who you are, and how you want to live your life. Your thoughts shape your life. The way you think is how you can control your destiny. Ultimate peace is knowing thyself. Thinking about my thinking today.

My thinking process has been significantly refined through reading books and professional journals. I've been reading ever since my first Nancy Drew book and ended up reading the entire detective series. I guess that could have been the start of my own detective story. Anyway, jokes apart, reading does refine your thinking. Vocabulary increases as you raise the level of the material you read, thus enhancing the quality of the ideas that get transmitted to your brain. My advice to anybody who wants to raise the quality of their thought process is to make it a daily practice to read material that is well-written, contains cohesive arguments that follow the rules of logic, and of course peeks your interest in such a way that it forces you to make choices about how positively you want to live your life. Another very important piece of advice is not to read trash. Trashy reading makes one lead that sort of life. (Ladies, by that I mean stop spending your precious time on fashion magazines that dehumanize your feminine spirit.)

My philosophical mind has been further affected by penning down my thoughts on paper. This does wonders if you're confused about a concept you wish to understand, disprove, or revise. I can't express the beautiful experience of writing and re-writing a logically coherent piece of work that excites your mind. Reading and writing sure do come close to that sublime mystical state of mind. Write it down and be aware of your feelings, the way you perceive your surroundings, and how you respond to people of diverse nature and background. Analyze yourself thoroughly (instead of analyzing your significant other most of the time). Writing about your day, your week, your moods, your relationships, your purpose, and your genuine experiences will get you to a renewed self-awareness. I guarantee that the quality of your thoughts will get better and better as a result of this constant self-validation practice.

Like reading, there is also a dangerous tendency to your well-being if you don't practice the writing technique the right way. You can write about whatever it is you are feeling, but yes I do believe there are some ground rules:

1. Do not use your personal diary to reinforce any subconscious beliefs that can lead to depression. In other words, 'don't drink when you're sad'. It is so important to be able to trace your moods back to their source, and control them. Don't ever let your personal diary become an excuse for self-pity.

2. Have a purpose to writing your thoughts down. Before you spill out your feelings in your journal, be sure to write out a compelling "question of the hour/day/week/year". This is a way to give direction to your writing. A challenging and exciting question will focus the quality of your thoughts into seeking your own right answers. A guiding question must force you to come up with an answer that satisfies you after you're done writing. Closure is essential in our thoughts as it gets us in final contact with reality.

For your thoughts to be crisp with logic and true belief, you must learn to still your mind. Focus and concentration are the most important assets the mind has for nourishment of the brain. One way is to still your mind. Meditation has been an age-old practice for centuries. With so many distractions and pollutions, it is wise to take the time out and sit alone in silence, stilling your mind so that it is refreshed when you need to turn it on. The name of this ultimate game is discipline. The next time you're driving to work, turn off the radio and attempt to think of nothing. The best way to think is truly not to think during the time you absolutely don't need to. So make time to be silent and absorb the vacuum. Your thoughts will be far more clearer at your 8 a.m. meeting.

The reason I've posted this entry is to send one all-important message: philosophical arguments are ultimately about the way you execute your self. Your body, the language you use, your mannerisms, the way you treat yourself, all reflect your thoughts. When you get to a higer conscious state of awareness, you'll be able to tell people's thoughts from just the way they come across. Your thought process reflects the reactions to your subjective life experiences. Think about it.