A few days ago I got an email from the Jamaica country desk officer asking for some information for a compilation of a “Mug Book” PC Jamaica was putting together (I’m still not sure exactly what a Mug Book is, but I’ll update when I find out). Among the questions were things like name, birthday, assignment title, hobbies, etc., and lastly: my philosophy of life. This very last question perplexed me a bit as I sat and pondered. There have been many quotes and sayings that I’ve spent parts of my life holding close to my heart. Throughout college I had I large poster on my wall of a blue, pink, and gold galaxy with a quote from Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world“. Since I process my thoughts in a more organized fashion when I write them down, I began to jot down some more quotes and life philosophies of others that have been influential to me.
Some things that came to mind:
“I would like to be remembered as someone who was not afraid to do what she wanted to do, and as someone who took risks along the way in order to achieve her goals.” – Sally Ride
“Anybody who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Einstein
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama
“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Einstein
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou
“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” – Bertrand Russell
The words and philosophies of these people (some of them — like Sally Ride and Maya Angelou who have been role models since my childhood) have all guided and inspired my philosophy of life in certain ways. However it didn’t feel right to adopt any one quote or life philosophy as my own. I don’t think I have ever declared my very own coherent philosophy of life. Maybe I just hadn’t written it down yet. Or maybe I had, but just in bits and pieces that needed to be sewn together. So I took out my journals and began to scour through my past thoughts, scribbles, and pictures.
Things began to take form rather quickly. Something I’ve been reminding myself since high school is to stay grounded. It’s scribbled as a reminder all over my journals, on my mirror, and in my electronic devices. I’ve always run at high stress levels and have been a daydreamer since childhood. So almost constantly I’ve been reminding myself to stay mindful, present, and to manage my stress (through self care, exercise, and through fostering meaningful relationships with others). Almost every morning for a while I’ve also been repeating three words to focus my efforts and actions: Grit. Growth. Giving.
Those words together all sound nice. The 4 G philosophy maybe? Grounded, Grit, Growth Giving. As I thought about it I had a vivid reflection of myself doing the tree pose in my yoga practice; every time I balance and stretch in this pose I think about roots stretching from my feet deep down into the Earth. And as I drew this mental picture, it dawned upon me that these four words I was focusing on form the structure of a tree. And as silly as it may sound — I recognize that humans are fairly more mobile than trees — it forms a beautiful mnemonic picture in my mind where I can hold these four words to recall them into my focus and intention at ease.
So that’s how I discovered that my philosophy of life (for at least the time being) is to
Be Like a Tree:
Be Grounded and go deep with my roots – through staying present, mindful, and foster meaningful relationships with others.
Have Grit – to stick to it, have determination, and persevere through hardship and adversity.
Grow – learn from mistakes and failures; be adaptable and flexible with changing conditions.
Be Giving – give compassion, attention, courage, and love to myself and others.