I’m sure you’ve read this quote before: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates said that at his trial for heresy. He was on trial for encouraging his students to challenge the accepted beliefs of the time and think for themselves. The sentence was death but Socrates had the option of suggesting an alternative punishment. He could have chosen life in prison or exile, and would likely have avoided death.
But Socrates believed that these alternatives would rob him of the only thing that made life useful: Examining the world around him and discussing how to make the world a better place. Without his “examined life” there was no point in living. So he suggested that Athens reward him for his service to society. The result, of course, is that they had no alternative and were forced to vote for a punishment of death.
Luckily, we don’t have to choose between an examined life and death. But the sad thing is, most people avoid leading an examined life. It’s not that they don’t have time or make time. They actively avoid examining their lives.
People who do examine their lives, who think about where they’ve been, how they got here, and where they’re going, are much happier people. No one has all the answers. And no one’s life is free from trouble and strife. But those who have some sense of where they belong in the universe also have a context for understanding how all the elements of their life fit together.
If there are two people, one with a map and one without a map, who has the better chance of reaching her destination? The one with the map, of course.
When you set aside time to examine your life,
You get to choose your destination; You get to set the goals;
You get to determine the path; You get to decide how long it will take;
You get to decide whether you’re on the right path or the wrong path.
In other words, you begin to know your self and to take control of your life. You decide who you want to be and begin to become the person you want to be.
Examining your life brings tremendous freedom. You can take control of your life and all you have to do is set aside half an hour a day to get started. For specifics on getting started, go to /Articles and view the article entitled Know Yourself. You will also find the following related articles: A Consensus on Meditation; Contemplation; Working Toward Balance; and Relaxation Breathing.
The hardest thing about examining your life is getting started. You have to sit your butt in a chair and get used to not doing anything. Just relax. Focus. Well, you understand . . . .