Earlier this year, it dawned on me that most people cannot articulate what their core values are. That is, what are the values they have used to structure and build their lives upon. I realized that I could only barely describe in a couple of vague sentences what my core values are. Complicating the matter, I believe most people are often deluded about their values, or mistaken, or just plain refuse to admit that their core values are the values they live by, the things they will sacrifice for.
This state of affairs is not that surprising. How to live has been confusing people for millennia. Despite (or because of) no definitive answer, this question is sadly ignored. Philosophy and ethics are not great matters of cultural debate. Corporate mainstream media promote a vision of consumerism. It is trite to say that consumerism does not lead to lasting fulfillment or happiness. The question remained what would. Thus, I found myself trying to discover or develop a philosophy of life that I could practically implement.
At first, I did not know I was looking to develop a philosophy of life. I felt unmoored and without a coherent understanding of my life. Of course, I had ideas about how to live an ethical life – treat people as you would want to be treated, for example – but these random strands of ethics did not amount to a fulfilling vision of an ethical life.
And so off I went searching. Primarily in books, but also in the world and in myself. For a philosophy of life, or: (i) a set of ethical beliefs one can use to understand the world, themselves, and their actions; (ii) an ethical system that can be used to practically plan how one wants to live.