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Fascinating Philosophy for Self-Growth

butterflies Self-growth, self-improvement, self-esteem, and motivation articles, books, videos, coaches, ebooks (including mine) inundate the Internet. They offer advice on how to live better than you are living now.

Good advice, but oh, so contemporary.

Sometimes it's more interesting to read philosophy.

One time a Korean medical doctor hired me to write an article explaining acupuncture for American magazine readers. He fed me the information but it took me three weeks to figure out how to start the article. Finally I realized I had to go all the way back to Plato and Confucius. Through them I could demonstrate how Western and Eastern philosophical contemplations led to two completely different branches of medicine.

So, let's consider the elements of the good life according to Aristotle. I bet you can relate-even if you don't know who he is.

1. The Contemplative Life. You know Plato's old line, "An unexamined life is not worth living." If you have read this far you carry his contemplative streak. You ask the big questions. You ask why. Good on ya, as they say down under.

When the fatalist loses his job, his car, his key to the club, he doesn't mourn. He says, "I gave it back." He recognizes the transitory nature of everything. Some of us have to get really old to get to that point. I met a woman at a writers' conference who had just moved out of a fourteen room mansion into a two bedroom condo. "I gave it all back," she said.

It is a good life when we accept what is inevitable. You know your car is going to die someday, among other beloved flora and fauna.

Hedonism implies desire. Desire implies want--unsatisfied want. That's no fun. According to Aristotle, a true hedonist trods a narrow path between the pain of unsatisfied pleasure and pleasure. He's not going to pine over the Queen of Sheba when he can have the Queen of Next Door. He leads a peaceful life, getting his pleasure in protected context.

Sister Theresa never thought of herself as a saint. She just thought she was living a good life. The firefighters in every city do not think of themselves as heroes. When one dies trying to save a life, he probably thinks, "Damn, I goofed," not "They'll bury me a hero."

What we choose to do in life is programmed early. Our judgments of ourselves and others are hardwired, too. Personally, I measure my own self-growth by the wonderful decrease in my daily judgments of others..

I think Aristotle would say, if he knew the lingo, think about your life, live your life, expect bad weather and enjoy it, give up what you hang on to, seek pleasure safely, not excessively, and do what you do for its own sake, not for some ridiculous pat on the back.

Then again, I may be right.

I will now drink a toast to your good life with a safe amount of Hedonistic Port.

Copyright 2006 Cole's Poetic License

About The Author
© Evelyn Cole, MA, MFA, The Whole-mind Writer,

Cole’s chief aim in life is to convince everyone to understand the power of the subconscious mind and synchronize it with goals of the conscious mind. Along with "Mind Nudges" and "Brainsweep", she has published three novels and several poems that dramatize subconscious power.

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