January 15. “The life that is unexamined is not worth living.” (Plato)
Sometimes when I am writing my blog I wonder if I am being too hard on myself. Looking back at past posts I have gotten on my own case about many things, and have set personal goals to improve. Some of them I have accomplished, while others remain in front of me. I do all this in the name of continuous self-improvement, but sometimes I just wonder whether I shouldn’t just chill out.
I saw this quote in the quotation book about a week ago. As I have been thumbing through I have seen it a couple of times since. Today when it came across my field of view I knew I had to write about it.
I definitely do think there are times when I am too hard on myself. There are days when I wake up and I don’t like what I see in the mirror, both literally and figuratively. I still see a person who is obese (although I am not calling myself that this week), and my physical fitness, while improved, isn’t where I want it to be. Figuratively I see a person who is sometimes moody, I can snap at someone without warning at times. There are days when I feel very paranoid, that those around me are scheming to make my life more difficult. I see a person who can go an entire day without any spark to achieve, and be totally fine with it.
I also see a lot of positive about myself. I see a person who has seized control of his health. I see a person who has made difficult changes at work to be more happy in his job. I see a person who friends seek out, not only for fun, but for help. I see a successful father and husband. I see much that is laudable. And, on most days, I am very happy with who I am. Those days where I am unhappy with the man in the mirror are becoming fewer and farther between.
So, then, am I still too hard on myself? If I were to make a chart of all the days where I set goals to improve something about myself here, and compared it to the number of days when I actually didn’t like what I was seeing in the mirror, I think the results would be interesting. I think that the number of days that I set goals to improve far outweigh the number of days that I really was unhappy with myself. What does that mean? Does it mean that I am spending too much time on the parts of my life that need improvement, and not enough celebrating my successes?
Today’s quote really makes me think about this balance. I do believe in what Plat is saying, namely that if I leave my life unexamined then it is a tragedy. I have long been an introspective person, so the idea of not examining my life is as foreign to me as not breathing would be. The question for me isn’t whether or not to examine my life, but whether or not I need to change my focus.
As I am sitting here pondering the question, two things come to mind. First, I do need to spend more time examining what is right about me. I need to do this for my own benefit, for my own self-esteem. Second, I must still look for areas to improve. I am a believer that if you aren’t working to improve, then you are regressing. That isn’t to say I am doing poorly, but if I don’t always look to push the bar, I will fall behind on all of my aspirations.
I guess what I am saying is that, yes, I need to examine my life. I always need to examine my life. I need to weigh the good with the bad and be realistic about who I am and where I want to go. By doing this I do live a little better. Perfection is not something I pursue for myself in life because it is an impossible dream. But, a path of continuous improvement is not only possible, but essential for me to be happy.
Plato got it right, in my opinion. What makes life worth living and so much fun for me is to constantly be looking at myself and taking stock. By doing so in a balanced way, my life is enormously better.
Today my reflection is on the need for balance in my self-view. While writing and working on my personal goals, my house project list, and my work objectives, I must always remember that I am an accomplished person, and that I can always do a little bit more. With that two-edged approach, I can make 2015 one of my best ever.