Why You Should Have a Life Philosophy

A carved buddha statue

I am not one of these people who take Pinterest quizzes. I am not new-agey. I don’t like a whole bunch of fuss. I’m not sentimental. I don’t have a spirit animal. I am the most pragmatic person I know. Ironically, I would never read a post called “Why You Should Have a Life Philosophy.”

The whole idea summons images of inspirational print art, t-shirts claiming my heritage as a mermaid or unicorn, and Tony Robbins… then they get all blurred together as a mental picture of Tony Robbins having sex with a mermaid with a scrawly script above it that says “Everyday is a good day when you’re fucking a mermaid!”

Mermaid GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

But having a life philosophy is not about higher thinking or spiritual fulfillment or having sex with mermaids.

It’s about organization.

A life philosophy is the header on your to-do list. It is the outline for your life.

Operating without a life philosophy is akin to writing a to-do list but mixing in your grocery list, things you want for Christmas, and random phone numbers and addresses, then writing it all out on the back of an old receipt, running out of room, and just switching to the back of your hand. When it comes to your life plan, I don’t want you to find yourself having the equivalent of four contacts in your phone called “celery” and a refrigerator full of Christmas presents.

There is a lot to contend with in life and there is nothing organized about it. The billion subcategories of our lives blur together until they’re an endless, directionless hodgepodge of faces, events, and intentions.

So many of us end up feeling lost. Like “time just flew by.” Like, despite our overall desire to be “Happy” or “Successful” or “A Good Person,” we don’t know ourselves and we don’t know how we ended up where we are.

A Life Philosophy is the number one must-have for an organized and ambitious life. Without one, you may find yourself lost.

Your goals are not a life philosophy

Being “A Good Person,” “Happy” or “Successful” or a “Good Parent” are not life philosophies. They are goals. Goals change or become unattainable or are completed. It’s good to have goals, lots of them.

Goals are a subcategory, an important one. Highlighted and underlined. Probably with a sticker, or drawing of a succulent next to it, depending on how into your bullet journal you are.

Organize Sharpie Marker GIF by Sharpie - Find & Share on GIPHY

Your identity is not a life philosophy

Traveller, teacher, mother, Christian, adventurer, dancer, husband. These are identities and our identities are the easiest things to mistake as a life philosophy. 90 percent of us let our identities run the show. This is a fine thing…mostly.

When we let our identities define us and shape our lives, we usually succeed. Someone who puts “mother” as the encompassing theme of their lives is probably going to be a pretty great mother. Unfortunately, our identities can be stripped away. Children grow up or don’t grow up, bones break, retirement comes too early, or too late.

My philosophy:

“Make no room.”

I came into a life that was mostly pain. Homeless, scared, hungry. I would say “discomfort” and “worry” were the best case scenario for most of my days. If I was just uncomfortable and worried, that was a lot better than being afraid and that was a good day.

When I came into my own independence, determined to live a happy life, the overwhelming advice to do so was to” drop the toxic shit in my life.”

It’s sound enough as far as advice goes. In practice, however, I found that emptying my metaphorical cup of poison only left me with an empty cup. Toxic but familiar people, habits, ways of thinking, were my company, they were my “ways.” I knew them. Dumped friendships were replaced with lonely evenings, skipping dessert was replaced with boredom.

Nothingness.

And I found the desserts were better than the boredom and the bad relationships were better than the loneliness, and they crept back in.  But when I went out dancing during dessert time, and had lunch with someone positive and uplifting instead, I found I didn’t have room for the binge eating, or for the negative relationships. My time was taken.

Good Morning GIF by kimburgerly - Find & Share on GIPHY

By taking my cup and filling it with ten cups of water instead of emptying it was the thing that made no room for the poison.

When I go to plan my days now, “make no room” is the philosophy that guides my pen. No room for toxic negativity. No room for doubt or loneliness.

When space does seem to open up, space for fear and depression and anxiety, I know that I have made too much room for it. I visualize that cup filling with poison, then water it down with more love, more pleasure, more companionship, more knowledge. I make no room.

Find your philosophy

My life philosophy is simple and has served me so well. I am grateful for its guidance.

You are welcome to my philosophy. It’s a good one! But if you want help finding your own, ask some of the happiest people you know, some of the people you most admire what their life philosophy is. It should ring true to you. It should calm you. It should stand on its own. Some of my very favorite people provided me with these:

“Pleasure when possible.”

“Change in some way, every day.”

“Do the hard things.”

“Always have something to look forward to.”

What’s your life philosophy?


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71 thoughts on “Why You Should Have a Life Philosophy

  1. Love this, every bit of it. Especially the part about identity. I feel like when what people see us as or recognize us for is too strong and straightforward, we aren’t allowed to do or be anything outside of that without it feeling weird. And as a generally anxious person, making ‘no room’ needs to be a priority and occupy time that would otherwise be wasted. I think my life philosophy is productivity, learning and growth. Thank you for this!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “Delight in Life.”

    I came up with this some years ago as my guiding light, and it has served me well. Like “make no room” does for you, it leads me towards outcomes I prefer. When I have a choice between (1) what I must do, and (2) what I can do, I choose the one that brings me the most delight, in life.

    Don’t get me wrong, however, that isn’t always the path of the hedonist. (Sometimes it is). In fact, just as often, it is the path of the lawn mower, the vacuum cleaner, or the blog writer. Why? Because I delight in life more when I come home from work and my lawn is mowed, my house is clean, and my blog is writ (or others are read). It matters. I have gone out and had beers with friends on a day I wanted to get things done, and it was delightful enough, but not crossing off my to-dos gave me awful undelight.

    WP just red-lined my word “undelight.” I looked it up, it’s real. 🙂

    In fact, I wrote about it in one of my first entries, and this reminds me that my mission needs an update. I did update it, once, but it needs another look. Once a year, at least, we ought to do that.

    Brilliant as always, sister. You, too, are my guiding light! 😇

    https://www.tombeingtom.com/mission-statement/

    https://www.tombeingtom.com/mission-revisit/

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes! It is completely normal to “delight” in cleaning, or cooking, or any of those other “drudgeries” or atleast realize that it will lead to your delight. I am essentially the hedonist bot from Futurama but I feel the genuine delight in a job well done!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this! I would say mine is “always have something to look forward to as well.” It doesn’t matter if it’s tickets to a show or packing a delicious lunch for work, I always have a positive thing to focus on and look forward to.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think it’s a very valuable post. Like you I am pragmatic and this sentimental love for general quotes surprises me at best.

    I think an important advantage of having own life philosophy, is that it allows you to better prioritize and helps you know what to do.

    For me, it’s “If you want to do something, but you are afraid, still do it”. I want a lot of things, but I’m very often a chicken. This approach tends to make me fell in charge of my life.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wow, this could be why my life is truly such a mess… I have no life philosophy. This is something that I dearly need to work on, and then maybe, just maybe, life will start to level out and I will finally figure out what ‘happy’ really means.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Lawd almighty, do I LOVE a list. Doesn’t really go with that whole hippie, flowy, creative type writer image but it’s the truth. And you sure did nail the truth with this one.

    I wrote about how I used to teach (and yeah, I’m dropping my link here – https://riddlefromthemiddle.com/2018/03/06/a-teachers-life-redux-part-3/). Boy, did I need your post back when I had a MASSIVE identity crisis because omg-if-I’m-not-a-teacher-then-who-am-I??? It was painful. Climbing out of it was slow and if I said I was fully baked (bwahahahaha! baked) I’d be lying. But it’s much healthier to center my philosophy around what I believe, not what I am, and I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made.

    Awesome post!!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Mine is Go Big. If you’re going to do something, do it with pride and passion. You have to make dinner? Put on some tunes and make it a dance party while frying chicken. You have to fold laundry? Drag your significant other to help and make it a race to see who matches the most socks first. Life is full of mundane- it’s our job to find the joy in it. 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

  8. I really liked this topic! I’m someone who’s naturally interested in social sciences like world religions and general spirituality, so this was a great read💕👏🏼.
    My life philosophy:
    “You are your own solution”.
    I say this because we tend to think that an outside force like an opportunity, person, place, or materialistic possession/status is going to “solve” our problems. Truth is; only we can. Everything is about perspective and you are your own problem, limit, and solution❤️👏🏼

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My life philosophy is ‘Live for the day’. That sounds like I’m not expecting very much life, but sadly too many never have the privilege of growing up or growing old. It also encompasses the idea of not saving things for best. Don’t save that dress just to wear for a special occasion, or you risk never knowing the pleasure of wearing it. If I want a glass of that expensive gin I treated myself to, I shall have one. Complete with cocktail umbrella. I don’t care if it’s only Tuesday. When should I be saving it for? I really like the idea of leaving no room for negativity. Some excellent philosophies here. 😊

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    1. I don’t have one, but I think this is closest to what my life philosophy might be. Sometimes, I just need to be content with moving one foot in front of the other if that’s all I can do. I’ll still get somewhere.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. This comes at the perfect time for me. I’ve always been very ambitious, a type A personality. I previously THOUGHT that my life philosophy was “Never give up.” I even got that once in a fortune cookie and carried it around with me. As an actor and writer I’ve always been told that I’m running against the odds. To counteract that I always believed that if I just fought hard enough I would overcome them. But when it hasn’t worked out just like I thought, I felt lost, empty, not sure who I was anymore. That’s when I developed my NEW life philosophy. “Surrender to happiness.” I’m starting to figure out that what I do doesn’t dominate my happiness. Surrender has been an extremely difficult concept for me, I’m one who likes to schedule out every moment. But I can only spin my wheels for so long before I just want to be happy and at peace. So every morning I meditate and ask my higher power, the universe, whatever you want to call it, “What would you have me do? I’m done doing it my way.” And then i just enjoy each part of my day. The funny thing is, when I did this, I felt called to write and article about gay marriage and the church and that article is being published in the January issue of “Spirituality and Health Magazine”. So surrendering to happiness actually worked way better for me that the jaw clenching “Never give up!”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This is so relatable to me. I have a type A personality too, and I had rigidly planned out my career and life when I started university. When things didn’t happen the way I planned, I was devastated but I kept going, thinking I still had a chance. I’m not sure whether or not I still have a chance, but with the last bit of career rejection I faced, I was just done and tired of fighting. Surrendering is hard for me too, but I realize how necessary it is to be content.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. My life philosophy? Well, I would say that it is to live. I want to live, not just simply exist. So, always, I try to appreciate every moment, good or bad, and extract every ounce of beauty from the things and people around me. I guess that’s it. Is that even a philosophy? Shit, all I know is that I am blessed and to be able to open my eyes every day and chase my dreams makes me the luckiest person in the world. I ain’t wasting my time anymore wallowing in ‘what if’s?’ I intend to live the shit out of the life ahead of me. Look at you, making me all introspective ‘n shit this morning. Love it!!! Big hug girl!! xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tanya!!!! I want to know how apartment life is going!!!!! I love your philosophy. We share values! Lol. I am trying to manage a “routine” while not feeling like a turd. That essentially means that I need to both mow my lawn but still meet new people hahahahaha!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Tiara!!! AS IF you could feel like a turd. Ha! May I also point out that the word ‘turd’ makes me seriously happy for reasons I simply cannot explain. I am going to use turd at some point today, like, maybe even a few times. Thanks, girl, for bringing turd back into my life! You are an inspiration and I have no doubt that while you are mowing you can do anything! Apartment life is going well, FYI. I am also working on a move to the UK possibly next year. Who knows. But, things are indeed looking up! MUAH.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. haha!I have also been incorporating “bag of dicks” and “asshat” of late, so once you’ve exhausted “turd” you know what to do . Oh my gosh the UK! So jealous, especially now as our government is not so slowly being replaced with rapists. I have to know what canadians think of us right now! Do you talk about it? Are you like ” what the fuck america!”

        Like

  12. I’ve never considered an actual life philosophy. Mostly because I’m a fucking hot mess and my life is, well- chaos. But chaos is all that I know and I do it with such poise and sophistication. People ask me ALL the time “ely how do you DO IT?” I work over-time in 3 going on 4 surgical centers, a run a cake design business that’s no longer “just weekends”, have 3 kids to keep alive, a mortgage and a grandmother to maintain, a husband who works just as much and NO maids or cooks or assistants LOL and I barely sleep and no one can tell. (All hail the silk pillowcases, witch hazel, eye highlighters and lots of fucking vitamins and water! Fuck you sleep!- I should write a post about this lol) anyways- I’m never finished and I’m never willing to settle and I’m never OK with mediocrity. I suppose something I live by every single day is “go the extra mile. challenge yourself. YES YOU CAN”.

    I guess I’d sum it up to”NEVER SETTLE”

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I’ve carried this one around for about 30 years.

    “You only get to live this life once. You might as well enjoy it.”

    Much of my time and energy goes into having great experiences and having a good time. I have an amazing life, but I had to chase it to make it happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well, now I need me one of them thar life philosphies!

    Seriously though, this is simply beautiful. What a great reminder. And that’s coming from someone who was told by Pinterest her Disney spirit animal is the Cheshire Cat.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Words of absolute truth and wisdom, as always!!
    I am so the work in progress, and my life philosophy is…simply and unequivocally, live without apologies for who you are, seek your truth, and be prepared to own it all, the good, bad, or indifferent!
    Script your life with good intentions and a pure heart and be authentic in it all!
    Seems to work for me!
    ❤️🙌🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’d love to have a life philosophy. Maybe the quote ‘Go as long as you can, and take another step’. just another step. Keep going on – however you put it. Coz’ it gets so tough, but just keep on going, just the next right thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I really like this idea. I don’t have a life philosophy, and maybe that’s why I feel so directionless at times. I think this needs further thought, but if I were to choose something off the top of my head, I think it would be along the lines of “keep going” or “just do the damn thing.” I’m tired of fighting with myself over things and I’m tired of thinking. I think action counts for a lot. I imagine my philosophy will change over time, though.

    This was great food for thought, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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