This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. – Dalai Lama
Take a “DIY” approach to your spirituality. Don’t settle for pre-packaged ideology, unless it feels right for you. For me, a constantly-developing hybrid model of Buddhism, psychology and philosophy seems to work. (Examples at bottom of this post.)
Spiritual activities grow the sense of interconnectedness between ourselves, other humans and animals, the universe, and a divinity/creator, if you believe in one. Some people derive this sense of oneness from listening to a pastor’s sermon and singing songs at church. For others, yoga, meditation, sex, being immersed in nature, drug use, or a captivating musical performance may bring the same feelings. Find what works for you.
I am cautious of “pre-packaged” spirituality. Some religions come to mind: “Do x, y and z things and receive a bountiful afterlife.” Religion can be spiritually rich, but I think skepticism is healthy when considering religious doctrine.
Develop your spirituality by learning about different ideas, religions, and philosophies. Keep a “DIY” spiritual mindset. By following our own spiritual curiosity, we find activities that help us feel more at ease, connected and alive.
Examples of ideas that help me:
Philosophy // Alan Watts
Religion // Buddhism
Spiritual // Mysticism
Art/Music // Music and Spirituality
Nature // Forest Bathing
Psychology // Carl Jung and The Self
My first thought is… no. It has meaning in the feelings, emotions and connections we experience with other living things. I believe meaning is dependent on the perception of the other living things outside of ourselves. In other words, nothing exists without someone or something else to perceive it.
What are the things that happen if they are not perceived by a living thing? Like the old thought proverb:
“If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Part of me thinks existence alone justifies meaning. If something is perceived by something else at any given time, then it exists and it has meaning. So a tree that falls has meaning (or in this case, makes a sound) if someone or something else is there to hear it.
Let’s say a meteor hits Earth, wiping out all living creatures and all traces of life. Life and meaning do not hinge on continual perception. Even after they are gone, Earthly organisms existed with purpose. If a thing is perceived by one, at any time, that thing exists with purpose, in my opinion. This is a rosy view of meaning and life, but to me it beats the alternative: that we are random fluctuations in universal particles that accidentally achieved consciousness. I like the idea that even the mundane aspects of our world have meaning.
I try to remind myself to be happy there are other humans and animals around to see me and share this world. They give our lives meaning, if you believe so.
Edit – came across this quote from Albert Einstein after I wrote this, seemed relevant: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Looking at our world in 2017, there doesn’t seem to be much to be positive about. However, my driving philosophy revolves around optimism, education, and keeping a positive outlook. I think it’s important to keep a positive mind frame for ourselves and to lift up our fellow humans.
Back in 2014, I created a Facebook page called Positive Thoughts Daily. I began posting the things I read and found interesting there after I discovered the Positive Psychology movement. I was very excited about the ideas presented by Martin Seligman, a Harvard professor who is considered by many to be the father of the field of modern Positive Psychology. The main premise of positive psych is that our ideas and expectations of how we will perform and achieve our goals does actually affect our ability to achieve them. By creating the mindset that we will succeed, we are more likely to do the “undo-able”. Another book I read around this time that got me jazzed about Positive Psychology was “One Simple Idea” by Mitch Horowitz.
Another great series of videos comes from a Harvard professor named Tal Ben-Shahar. 22 lectures of his class, Positive Psychology 1504, are posted to YouTube for anyone to watch. You can find the first lecture here.
It’s been almost 3 years since I started posting to the PTD Facebook page, and I have decided it’s time to begin writing my own thoughts so I’m going to post them here.
My promise for Positive Thoughts Daily is: “Bringing you one inspiring thought (almost) every day with an edge of philosophy, psychology or anything that’s interesting.”, so the thoughts on this blog will echo that in some ways. I’ve chosen the name “Intellectual Positivity” for this blog because I believe a positive attitude, based on the ideas of the greatest thinkers in human history is a great foundation to live a good life and I want to share it with others! We’ll see how it goes 🙂 Thanks for reading!