The Wise Turtle's Guide to Philosophical Health

by Turil Cronburg - Date: 2006-12-11 - Word Count: 1511 Share This!

Philosophical Health

Just as a doctor checks your physical health, your philosophical life can go through the check-up and prescription process. The following guide is set up to help you assess your philosophical health, give you elixirs to reverse any philosophical maladies you may have caught or been injured by, and suggest mentally invigorating exercises to bring your mind up to peak performance.

While you are following the following prescriptions for your philosophical health, don't forget to take care of your physical health. Your brain is the muscle that you use for philosophy, and your brain is fueled by your body. Feed your body well, and keep it in good shape so that your brain can do it's job well. One nice way of thinking about keeping your whole being healthy is to think of taking care of your body, mind, and spirit (or body, intellect, and emotions, if you prefer). Philosophy mostly works on your mind and spirit. But don't forget your body, too.

One last request before we begin, please, take your time with this guide. Remember, The Wise Turtle became so wise because she takes her time. Why hurry and miss life? The best way to get where you want to go really is to take one step at a time. (It helps to have four feet like a turtle, but two feet will do!) So start with the first step, and go mindfully and purposefully along your path.

Part 1: Basic First Aid and Annual Check-Up

1. Assessment of physical/intellectual/emotional state. What needs attention immediately? Administer soothing aid before doing anything else! Thinking suffers when you suffer. So take care of your basic needs for health first and foremost.

2. Assess what is going right. Make a list of all the good stuff that's happened in your life recently. Big stuff, small stuff, any stuff you honestly appreciated.

3. Ask yourself what would you like to see in your life in the future. Consider what your overall goals, dreams, ideals, and purposes are. Write these down too. They can be simple or highly detailed.

4. As an intellectual game, take the conclusions from #3 and use them to create a slogan for your life. Pretend that you have been invited to a philosophical theme party and you have to display your essential life's purpose on your t-shirt. Try to make your slogan answer the question: "Who am I and what do I want to do with myself in life?" Make your philosophical slogan no longer than a sentence or two if you can. Don't worry, you never have to show this to anyone if you don't want to! But do write it down somewhere you can find it easily. This slogan is meant to be your touchstone or mantra - your philosophy of life. When you are feeling terrible about your life, the world, or whatever, take a look at your mantra to remind yourself of what you are all about. (If it doesn't make you feel better, then you may need to tweak it a bit.) Make a real t-shirt of your philosophical slogan if you want, and wear it when you are feeling particularly thoughtful.

The Wise Turtle has her mantra smack dab in the middle of her home page on her web browser, so that she sees it every time she gets on the internet. Some people like to make art that represents their life philosophy on it, either literally or metaphorically. If you are feeling really silly, you could make up an actual "First Aid Kit" for your mind, with nothing but your mantra printed on the inside in big red letters. You could keep it on your bathroom shelf next to the band aids and aspirin!

If that seems to corny or difficult for you, just write your slogan down on a regular old piece of paper and remember where you put it in case you want to look at it sometime, OK?

Part 2: Preventative Maintenance - Exercise Your Brain

1. Spend at least a few minutes each day just stopping to observe what's going on in your life right then. Don't just smell the roses, use as many of your senses as you can to observe the moment wherever you are: what do things look, sound, feel, taste, and smell like? Don't judge these things, just observe them as if you were a tape recorder or camera. This exercise tunes your senses and exercises them. It's sort of a basic training boot camp for your brain's input systems! You can focus on just one thing in detail, or take the whole broad scene in. You can sit still, walk slowly, or even dance around while you do this! (Just don't do it while operating a vehicle, OK?) You can focus on your mind, body, or environment or move your focus slowly from one to another. Whatever strikes your fancy. Do this exercise regularly with a variety of focuses and environments for best results.

2. When you encounter a thought that annoys you, ask yourself: "Can I be absolutely sure I have all the facts?" Take a few minutes or so to see if you are missing something. Maybe you are, and maybe you aren't. It can't hurt to take a second look, right?

3. Argue with yourself! Remember, you are guaranteed to win! Take some thought that you hold very strongly, and argue the other side for a while. See if you can come up with at least a few things that are true and that contradict your original thought. Play your own Devil's Advocate and see what happens. The point of this exercise is to stretch your mind and gain an understanding of the complexity of beliefs. See what other perspectives you can view the world from. As you argue, you may find that there are other, other sides as well, that you may have never imagined. Arguing with yourself is also a great test of your tolerance levels. Remember that if you win an argument with yourself, you also lose! So, if you can be respectful as you dual with yourself, then you are more likely to be respectful of others when they disagree with your ideas. And you may even decide that arguing is not as fun or informative as having a lively open ended discussion with someone with a very different perspective than your own.

4. Write a thank you note today. For anything. To anyone or anything. Do it again tomorrow. Make it serious or silly. You don't need to deliver it if you don't want. The important thing is to think about it and write it down or speak it out loud.

Part 3: Vacations, Explorations, and Philosophical Sporting Events

The following are some interesting suggestions for really stretching your brain. Pick one or all and see where you end up...

Feed your brain an athletes diet of healthy, whole, nutritious, delicious media. A junk food media diet will make your brain flabby and out of shape, and you'll never be able to leap over those mental hurdles. Seek out intelligent, creative, compassionate, positive, challenging books, magazines, movies, plays, music, and conversations. A little empty-calorie snack now and then is OK, but spend your life feasting on a varied diet of solid media meals will keep you in peak philosophical shape.

Write a Philosophical Myth that tells the story of your life's philosophy. Illustrate it with whatever you've got the skills to create - stick figures, Rembrant-like oil paintings, magazine clippings, rubber stamps, macaroni collages... Make copies to give to your relatives or send it to a book publisher and become famous!

Give yourself everything that you think someone else needs to give you. Give yourself recognition when you are right, forgive yourself when you are wrong, and thank yourself when you do the world a favor!

Every time you meet a should, look for it's intimate partner the shouldn't.

Look for patterns in the seeming chaos, or at least find ways to appreciate the chaos as if it were some sort of beautiful art being made by the Universe.

Travel a completely different route next time you go somewhere. Go the long way or through the (fill in the blank) part of town. See what you've been missing.

Talk to someone you've never spoken to before. Ask them about their life. Find out their personal philosophy or just ask them who they are. Don't judge them, just get to know them.

Read a book or article by someone who holds very different views from your own, and then look for at least a few truths in what they say.

Imagine that you are someone or something else - a tree, an insect, a cloud, a wave, a pig, a planet, the universe. Imagine what you would see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and generally experience if your consciousness were somehow transported into some other being or existence.

Look for something completely selfless to do. See if you can find something, anything, that makes someone else happier that doesn't also make you happier too. Go on try it!

Play! Play like you played as a kid. Play with kids. Play with your ideas! Laugh at life!

Related Tags: health, brain, mind, personal, life, development, philosophy, self-improvement, self, improvement, psychology

The Wise Turtle wants to hear your big questions about life, the universe, and everything. Ask The Wise Turtle, and she will act as a tour guide for your mind, showing you interesting intellectual sites and paths you may have never considered. Why ask a turtle? Well, turtles are renowned for being contemplative and for having a keen awareness of everything they observe. Turtles spend most of their time watching the world and absorbing all the information that speedier folks miss as they hurry through life. Thus turtles, especially ancient ones, are excellent sources of uncommon wisdom.

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