All posts tagged: self-knowledge

Week 49 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Receiving Gifts

Last week I wrote about how to give gifts. (By the way, I had a giveaway planned but the instructions were buried at the end of last week’s post.  Let’s try again – be sure to scroll all the way to the end for the instructions so you don’t miss out!)

This week, the topic is how to receive gifts. There is a saying that “it is more important to give than to receive.” If this is true, then naturally we should all want to give. (Indeed, there is a special feeling that comes from giving.) But where would that leave us – who would there be to receive the gifts, favors, and assistance that we are happy to give?  

In light of that observation, we must all become both givers and recipients.  This means we must be not only skilled at giving gifts, but also prepared to receive what others offer, too.  This allows others to practice giving.  Let’s talk about the ethics (norms, rules) that tell us how to receive.

Week 39 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Clutter

We’re obsessed with stuff.  We fill our homes with things we’ve collected, and when there’s no more room we rent storage lockers to house our stuff. I’ve been there, too. For at least a year I paid $200 a month for a storage locker.  When I look back at that time, I ask myself: What was I thinking?  It’s just a few years later and I have none of the things that I paid so much money to hold on to!  Why didn’t I just let go of it all in the first place, instead of paying at least $2400 to keep a bunch of stuff in a big, dark box?

I’m not the only one who has been through this experience.  It’s made me curious to know, what is the meaning of clutter? And why can’t we let go of all this stuff!?

Click for writing prompts to help you get to the bottom of your clutter.

Week 35 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Youth Worship

Maybe it’s because I’m in my thirties, but I’ve begun to notice that our society equates ‘life’ with ‘youth’.  By that I mean that concepts relating to “life” immediately stir up images of youthfulness.  Close your eyes and visualize ‘life’ and ‘living’ – you might see what I mean.  “Life” is misidentified with the decade or so of youth that is sandwiched between two other periods called “childhood” and “aging/decline”.

Read this week’s topic to reflect on your own attitude towards aging.

Week 33 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Loneliness

Loneliness is a popular topic in the news these days.  News articles tell us that loneliness is the new epidemic, that research is being directed into pharmaceuticals and AI to combat loneliness, and that governments are installing public infrastructure directed at facilitating interactions between strangers.  How is it that we can be so lonely despite living in densely populated cities?  What does it mean to be lonely?

Read more to find out!

Week 28 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Art

You love the arts and want your government to spend more on grants and public art, right? Well, even if you don’t, there are many good reasons for devoting effort and resources to the arts, such as cultural development, social activism and community engagement, and childhood education.  The artists themselves insist that art is good for us as human beings.

But there are plenty of reasons to reject funding the arts, too.  Top of the list: it costs a lot of money, it “does nothing”, and we can’t even agree on what counts as art.  The alternative is to spend money on things that give us utility – we can all agree on what’s useful to society.  In contrast, words probably never said about art: “That’s really useful.”

Let’s explore the Top 5 reasons to reject art as a concept and as a recipient of funding!

Week 21 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Objectivity & Subjectivity

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s journal topic: Objectivity and Subjectivity These terms seem frighteningly philosophical, right?  What’s this? you ask. More stuffy classroom terms that serve scant purpose in everyday life?  Actually, the terms objectivity and subjectivity are used fairly regularly in intelligent conversation about politics, science, and ethics.  And if it’s not the specific terms that are invoked, the concepts behind them are nonetheless are. Objectivity Say you’re having an argument with someone who finishes his speech by saying, “I’m just reporting the objective facts – you have to accept that I’m right about this.”  What does he mean by objective facts and why does stating them provide evidence to support his view? Simply defined, objectivity is the characteristic which expresses the idea that a statement is free of perspectives, value judgments, or bias from personal interests.  To emphasize that a statement is an “objective fact” is to iterate to your listener that the statement is “faithful to the facts” …

Week 20 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Fear

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s journal topic: Fear You’ve undoubtedly received all kinds of contradictory information about fear.  As a child, nauseous with nerves before stepping onstage in the school play, you probably heard your parents or teacher tell you that “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself” (FDR, former American president). If you’re a child of the 80’s or 90’s, you might remember the brand No Fear, whose edgy (at the time) T-shirts mocked fear. Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real These quotes tell us that fear is some kind of illusion; moreover, it’s an illusion that loses its power when we laugh at it and clearly see the illusion.  Fear is like a rubber snake dropped into your lap.  It’s impossible not to react, but when you see that it’s rubber, it’s funny. What is fear? Fear is really made up of two aspects: physiological and emotional.  In an environment in which our bodies perceive fear, the body reacts …

The Problem of Role Models: You’re Probably Doing It Wrong

In a confusing world that forces us to curb our natural behaviors, we often look to exemplars (i.e. role models) to facilitate and accelerate the decision making process. Those exemplars aren’t participants in the process  (obviously, we don’t have Warren Buffet, Jack Ma, or Mother Theresa on speed dial) but they influence our decisions in an indirect way. We reflect on our beliefs about these exemplars, asking questions such as What Would ____ Do? and allowing ourselves to be guided by the imagined response to a similar scenario.  There are different kinds of exemplars, and here are a few examples: Role model: A person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others. Idol: (colloquial usage) an image of a person with an ethereal, god-like, or transcendent status to which worship is addressed. Prophet: e.g.  Jesus, Mohammad, Abraham, Krishna, Buddha, Lao Zu, Confucius, etc. Moral saint: a moral philosophy term coined by Susan Wolf who says, “By moral saint I mean a person whose every action is as morally good as possible, …

Week 19 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Names

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!)  This week the questions are a break from the previous week’s heavy questions!  You can even use these questions as conversation starters. Enjoy! This Week’s Journal Topic: Names Romeo doesn’t care the Juliet’s surname is his enemy’s surname; to Romeo she’ll always be the same enchanting woman, even if her name was something else.  A name, in other words, means nothing.  But is a name really just an arbitrary thing, or does it affect our personality and future?  If names are unimportant, why do parents agonize over choosing the perfect name? Parents name their children’s given names with various purposes in mind. Unique reference. Some parents are concerned about originality of the name and want the name and spelling, in combination with the last name, to be a one-of-a-kind feature. E.g. Abcde, Mykenzee, J-a (Jadasha), etc. Meaning.  Some parents want a name to carry meaning and/or give the child a certain strength or quality.  Biblical and religious names remind …

Week 18 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Mind-Body Dualism

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here! I hope you’re enjoying the topics so far.  Now that we’re approximately a third of the year in, the concepts are getting a little more abstract!  Hang on tight – we’re about to get metaphysical!) This Week’s Journal Topic: Substance Dualism Substance dualism is a fancy term for the belief that the mind and physical body are two different kinds of “stuff” in the universe. Think of the brain and mind.  The brain is physical substance, whose properties we can detect through scientific study.  For example, we can measure electrical impulses, chemicals, and understand the connections between cells.  The mind, however, seems to be a substance that really exists but is undetectable by scientific methods. The reference to the mind as a substance is controversial because although we have intimate subjective experience with it (we feel it), we cannot scientifically test its properties.  So how do we know the mind exists and how can we even …