Monday, October 24, 2016

Can you sum up your whole philosophy in 4 words or less?

In the course of my day-job and writing, I'm often asked to give a ninety second pitch that explains what I am all about--what's my most important secret for why you should keep talking to me?  As a social scientist, I've also been asked multiple times what the over-arching, explain-everything, silver-bullet answer is to happiness and health.

These are deep questions I will probably never answer satisfactorily, any more than anyone else will, but thanks to a ridiculous Facebook challenge I do have a 4-word answer that almost, usually, at least as well as a Douglas Adam's novel, summarizes what I am all about and the one silver-bullet answer that I have discovered:

Love well, live well.

To clarify, I mean that I believe if I make an effort to love others well (e.g. better and better) every day, then all the other frustrating shit that comes with normal human existence will turn out more or less well. Spending my existence learning how to love well will be enough for me.  If I love well, then ipso facto I will live well. Everything I do ultimately tries to serve that purpose.  I can make hard decisions easily by simply taking the time to sincerely ask myself if doing this X difficult thing or sacrificing this thing I want will either a) help me learn how to love better or b) better show those I love how much I love them?

Am I good at it?  Not yet, but that doesn't bother me.  The point is that I have something to live for, something to keep perfecting, that brings greater and greater rewards just by living and trying to perfect it.  Also, when I'm dead (and we're all getting there), I'd be very happy if just one person said about me, "That Lacey, she really loved well."  I'm satisfied that doing so is a meaningful legacy to leave behind.

Is it a good philosophy for you too? Maybe.  But maybe not.  More important I think is the act of challenging yourself to define your whole philosophy in 4 words or less. I dare you.  Try it. Then for bonus, you writers out there, I challenge you to write a whole novel illustrating it.  Let your 4 word philosophy be your novel premise--if it can't make a book, I think it probably can't make your life.

What's your 4-word life philosophy/ pitch of what you're all about?  Please share in the comments.

If you need some help thinking about it, then here are the questions that helped me some:

  • What do you want others to say about you after you're gone?
  • What one thing would make you happy whether anyone ever knew you were good at it or not?
  • On your worst day yet, what made you get out of bed and try again anyway?
  • What has given you that hell-yeah-hallelujah-can't-believe-I-survived-that sense of accomplishment before?
  • What resonates with your soul, your faith, your talent, your hopes, and you curiosity all at once?
  • What advice would you want the children in your life to remember their whole lifetimes?
  • What would someone have to be good at for you to consider them truly enlightened and living the dream?
  • If you had one minute to live, how would you most want to spend that minute?
Even if you can't sum it up at all, much less in 4 words, the act of trying puts you a whole lot close to living well...that's my silver bullet.  Please, pass it on. Oh, and it's a fun exercise with friends and bourbon.
Maybe two words is enough, if you think of life as an adventure?

1 comment:

  1. Today I need to hold on to my favorite four words so I can continue to move forward. "This to shall pass."


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