A Deeper Dive on Life Philosophy

Well-crafted life philosophies can be transformative. With the right approach and commitment, the process of developing yours can lead you to profound realizations about yourself, life and the broader world. These realizations will bring clarity to what is uniquely essential to you.

Even though the specifics of any life philosophy are personal, effective personal philosophies share key characteristics. These characteristics center around how they are crafted and the general types of what is considered and included. Beyond that, the specifics of yours is entirely up to you and your perspective on yourself, life and the broader world.

Contrary to popular thinking about deep philosophic thought, going deep on your personal philosophy is more practical than abstract. While you may choose to find a quiet space and search within your thoughts and feelings, it is not necessary. For yours to be effective it needs to tie to who you are, the practicalities of life and the realities of the world.

This deeper dive touches upon the characteristics that make life philosophies transformational, common mistakes to avoid and key considerations that can help you craft yours to be transformative.

Introduction to Life Philosophy Resources

There are no right or wrong personal life philosophies. There are real reasons some personal philosophies are highly-effective and even transformative.

From what you consider to how you approach yours to how you make it part of your life, these characteristics make all the difference.

Not taking the right approach may result in a life philosophy that is only partially of value. Making certain mistakes will result in one that is largely useless.

Knowing and avoiding the common mistakes will help you craft a transformative personal philosophy.

A good understanding of life philosophy and the right approach will put you on the right track for knowing your personal philosophy. Even so, a pause before you dive in is advisable.

A validating that you are well equipped before you begin can make a world of difference.

Characteristics of Transformative Personal Philosophies

Developing your life philosophy helps you connect with what is essential and know why.

Knowing what is essential is not knowledge that we typically gain in the normal course of our lives. Throughout our lives we are educated, socialized and pressured to focus on basic aspects of life that can be unfulfilling. The process of developing your personal philosophy brings what is uniquely essential to you to the forefront.

From the time you were young you were put on a track to become a productive member of society. Before your mind and being was even mature you are fully on that track whether or not you actively choose to be or fully buy into it. Your life to this point has been a direct result of that early track that you were set upon by others. Now it determines what you invest most of your time and energy in and even largely how you define yourself. We generally don’t think concertedly about the basic premises upon which our lives are structured, or what is essential to us.

Each of our lives is generally structured around a standard set of aspects. The uniformity of how we structure our lives, and what we place importance in, is the result of how we are educated, socialized and ongoing reinforcement from others. These others include the institutions, systems and corporations that we have created. They benefit from our willingness to structure our lives uniformly and are sustained through it. They reinforce our uniformity and we help them survive and grow, in a form of a feedback loop.

Developing your personal philosophy necessarily requires you to look beyond the basic aspects that consume the majority of your time, energy, focus and lives. Though our education, culture and society do not teach us how, we all have the ability and need to understand what is essential. The process of developing your life philosophy provides you both the means and opportunity for knowing what is uniquely essential to you. Knowledge that you can use to get off the track you have been on and redirect the course of your life in a more significant direction.

Yours uses knowledge of the world that is broad in scope and diverse in the ways one knows.

In many ways your personal philosophy results from your perspective on the world through the lens of your self-knowledge. The richer your knowledge of the world is, the richer your personal philosophy will be. Understanding that there is great breadth in the ways that something can be known just as there is great breadth in what can be known is useful knowledge that helps you realize an expansive perspective on the world and life.

As you actively work to consider what you know about the world and life, having a broad perspective of what can be known and what it means “to know” will help you craft a robust personal philosophy.  The term knowledge, relative to a personal philosophy, should be used in a broad sense to include anything that can be known and all the ways that things can be known. The scope of knowledge and the ways that things can be known are two broad topics. One approach at encompassing these topics in an approachable manner is the theory of knowledge (TOK) used within the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP). From their website, the IB DP program seeks“…to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge…”  As a result the IB theory of knowledge has a broad encompassing perspective on knowledge. It is divided into two primary components: areas of knowledge (AOK) and ways of knowing (WOK). The areas of knowledge are intended to include the scope of what can be known and include: mathematics, ethics, history, human sciences, natural sciences, religious knowledge systems, indigenous knowledge systems and the arts. The ways of knowing are intended to encompass the ways that one can gain knowledge of the world and include: language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, intuition, memory and faith.

While an in-depth exploration of either the scope of knowledge or the ways that something can be known are beyond the present scope, they are helpful for understanding the nature of knowledge. Most importantly, there are diverse things that you know about the world and there are many ways that you know them. We all develop knowledge outside of education per se.  It’s not all science and reason.  They are a part of the scope of knowledge, but the arts, emotion and practical experience are valid forms of knowledge too. Being aware of and open to exploring the breadth of what you know both in scope and how you know it will help you develop your personal philosophy into something that brings rich value to your life.

The Expand segment of the LifePhilosophy.net approach helps you understand how expansive your perspective on the world is, further develop (if you decide to) and connect with it.

Developing yours helps you connect with and understand yourself.

A key part of developing your personal philosophy is identifying what is essential to you from your understanding of the world and life. Doing so necessarily requires you to have an understanding of, or connection with yourself. Connecting with yourself can be transformative because it generally is something we don’t even attempt to do.

There are many reasons that we don’t connect with ourselves. We can think we don’t have the right reasons. We can be uncomfortable with doing so. We can think that taking the time and space to do so is something that is a splurge and just not necessary. We can also think that we already know ourselves, even though we are continually growing and changing throughout our lives.

With the right approach, connecting with yourself can be transformative for many of the same reasons as looking at our expansive perspective on the world. As you connect, you rediscover things about yourself that you put aside for insufficient reasons. You can take time to look into what you haven’t given the proper attention. You can make new connections between things about yourself that you did not previously realize. You can realize new things about yourself that we have not previously understood because you have grown or changed. Just validating what you already know about yourself is valuable and uncommon. 

Simply taking the time and acknowledging that you and your perspective are important enough to make an investment in is affirmational for many. The experience of connecting or reconnecting with yourself and integrating this understanding into your personal philosophy is a necessary characteristic of crafting a personal philosophy that is highly-effective. In many ways this is how you develop a personal philosophy that is personal, something that is meaningful to you and something that you connect with.


Yours uses and places importance on quality knowledge of the self.

Self-knowledge is one half of the basis for one’s personal philosophy and knowledge of the world is the other. Self-knowledge takes many forms. The self-knowledge that is used in defining one’s personal philosophy can be some of the most challenging self-knowledge to get at. Attaining it is critical for developing your personal philosophy, at least one that rings true to you.

The barriers that we all encounter for developing our personal philosophy are in many ways barriers to developing self-knowledge, the kind of self-knowledge that is essential for developing a personal philosophy. Understanding and addressing these barriers is important for understanding yourself and what is most significant in the world to you.

As we touched on in the section on knowledge of the world, in many ways a personal philosophy results from your perspective on the world through the lens of self-knowledge. Just as richer knowledge of the world helps create a richer personal philosophy, clearer knowledge of yourself will result in a more personal philosophy that brings significant value to your life.

Understanding the type of self-knowledge that is needed to develop your personal philosophy requires a basic understanding of the concept of “the self” and the related concept of identity. While the concept of the self can be difficult to define simply, it can be thought of as a construct that encompasses your ability to think about your physical, mental and emotional being and make choices to exert active control over it. Identity can be thought of as an aspect of your self through which you define yourself. Your self and identity continue to develop throughout your life based on your experiences with others and the world in general. Through those experiences you define aspects of your self and your identity. Importantly, those experiences include the pressures put upon you to think, feel, act and become what others want. These are the same pressures that create barriers for developing your life philosophy, and they have the capability to shape your knowledge of yourself. Being able to have quality self-knowledge that can be used for developing your personal philosophy requires differentiating what is truly significant to you from that which others want you to think is significant. While this may sound obvious and straightforward, it can be very difficult to do. The pressure upon you comes from virtually every part of your life and has been happening throughout your life. The level of sophistication through which they are applied is rapidly increasing with the ever-present screens we view and the advancement of information technology.

As part of developing your personal philosophy, the time you invest in connecting or reconnecting with yourself to develop quality self-knowledge and understand what is truly essential to you is critical to developing a personal philosophy that will bring value to your life. The Connect segment of the LifePhilosophy.net approach for developing your personal philosophy focuses on doing so.

Yours makes your complex thoughts and feelings about life and the world more tangible, easier to understand and more useful in life.

Your most essential thoughts and feelings about the world and life and how they should be probably are not something that you can conjure up on a moment’s notice. Your personal philosophy, and the investment you make in developing it, make these important thoughts and feelings readily available for use in your life.

It may seem counterintuitive that a philosophy, even a personal philosophy, can make your thoughts and feelings more tangible. This perception is largely due to the connotations associated with philosophy resulting from writings of many of the famous philosophers and general philosophies. Cutting through them and trying to make practical sense of them is no small task. It is an experience that can lead one to think that philosophy has no practical use.

Effectively crafted personal philosophies are fundamentally different from general philosophies. To begin with, you are the one developing your personal philosophy so it is based upon your thoughts and feelings. They are yours not those captured in the words of a philosopher potentially written in a completely different era and translated from one language to another. Your thoughts and feelings are not words that you have to decode, including literally looking up definitions for some.

The primary reason for developing your personal philosophy is to use it in your life. Making your thoughts and feelings about life and the world and how they should be into a form that is clear to you is a necessary part of creating a transformational personal philosophy. Having this clarity can be transformational. It can also enable you to draw upon it, at a moment’s notice, as life happens.

The Refine segment of the LifePhilosophy.net approach for developing your personal philosophy focuses on helping you make your complex thoughts and feelings about the world and life clear and accessible to you.

Your personal philosophy is broad enough in scope to have applicability to much of your life.

Having one aspect of your life that is of paramount importance provides focus, but it does not encompass your entire personal philosophy. A highly-effective, transformational personal philosophy has enough breadth that it is applicable to much of your life.

Having clarity on the one thing in the world or life that is the most essential to you and structuring your life, and personal philosophy, around it is an approach that some are naturally driven to. For many there are more than one aspect of the world and life that is essential. Even if you have a highly focused life, there are other aspects beyond your central focus that are needed for a highly-effective personal philosophy. For instance, if you are highly focused on dedicating your life to an important cause, such as hunger, water, peace, nature, climate change, equality, justice… (the list of opportunities seems to go on indefinitely) there will be other aspects of your world and life that are not encompassed by the pursuit of this cause. Excluding them from your personal philosophy will leave you exposed to them when you inevitably encounter them. You will be left searching for answers at a time when you are likely not in a good place to do so. A highly-effective personal philosophy speaks to what is meaningful in life, what you place value in, how you think life should be lived and the world should be. Having this breadth of scope gives it applicability to enough of your life to be transformational through being something that you can consistently and reliably draw upon, especially when life comes at you with a cross look in its eyes.

Your personal philosophy is a practical tool that equips you to live a more engaged, rich, purposeful life.

The understanding of the world and life that your personal philosophy crystalizes for you applies to every non-trivial aspect of living, from making decisions on the things you invest your energy in, to helping you with moral dilemmas, to knowing where your life path should go.

It’s easy to think of a personal philosophy as a statement to the world of who you are. While your personal philosophy can help you and others understand who you uniquely are, it is a practical life tool if it is crafted well. A tool that you can use in your life in many ways as we covered in the importance (value) of personal philosophies. If your personal philosophy has enough breadth in scope it will be something that applies to much of your life. Balancing breadth with complexity is important. A personal philosophy that is too complex will be difficult to actively know and apply to your life. Intentionally developing and using your personal philosophy so that it focuses upon your fundamental truths and aspirations and is supported by anything else that you consider essential is part of crafting it as a practical life tool. Actively working to make it a real part of your life is another key aspect.

Unlike general philosophies and religions, your personal philosophy evolves as the world and you change.

Personal philosophies are not doctrines, dogmas, commandments, or edicts, no more than we are statues carved from stone.

While personal philosophies are generally stable and don’t change rapidly, they can change throughout one’s life as one grows and as the world changes in significant ways. The process of developing a personal philosophy, or at least keeping yours up to date, is something that is ongoing throughout one’s life.  It is good to revisit it at least from time to time. Just like it is possible for your current life to be out of sync with you as an individual, it is possible for your personal philosophy to get out of sync with you and your life. This discord is the result of not keeping your personal philosophy up to date. You are not stagnate. Your personal philosophy should not be an unchangeable doctrine, dogma or edit. Ideally, the approach you use for developing your personal philosophy becomes an ongoing part of your life. One that naturally keeps your personal philosophy updated and in sync with you and life.

Your personal philosophy is expressed in ways that are meaningful to you.

It is hard to know your personal philosophy, if it has any real breadth and depth, without expressing it in some form.  If done well, how you express your personal philosophy can help make it highly-effective and even transformational.

While it is possible to have a personal philosophy that exists only in your thoughts and feelings, expressing it in a tangible form is beneficial for developing, knowing and making it a part of your life. It is necessary to realize the value it can bring.

Expressing your personal philosophy:

  • brings clarity to each part by necessitating the choice of how you will express them.
  • makes it tangible through converting it from thoughts and concepts into something you can refer to.
  • helps you to integrated it into your life.
  • enables you to share it with others.

Just as there are many types of knowledge and ways to know, there are many ways to express what you know. Most express their personal philosophy in at least one written form that captures their essential truths and aspirations. One way to do so is through expressing them as principles or tenets. In this form, a personal philosophy is expressed as its pure essence. Your life philosophy expressed as tenets can be the simplest to remember and are often the most concise way of stating it.

It can be useful to support the principles or tenets from your personal philosophy with supporting context that further develops them. This can be done through supporting them directly with additional content or expressing them in other ways, such as an essay.

Since your personal philosophy is based upon what you know and feel, it can be challenging to capture the full magnitude of your thoughts and feelings as tenets or in essay format.  Other forms of expression including the visual and performing arts can help with this. Symbology as well as rituals are pragmatic forms of expression that can help one keep their personal truths and aspirations present in their life and are worth consideration.

Ultimately how you state your personal philosophy has significance for how you live it. Expressing your personal philosophy in ways that work for you is an important part of making yours highly-effective and something that can bring transformational value to your life.

The Express segment of the LifePhilosophy.net approach focuses on helping you express your personal philosophy in ways that capture its meaning and help you live it.

Common Mistakes You Can Make with Your Personal Philosophy

You develop yours with little or no knowledge about personal philosophies.

Have you ever entered into a conversation where someone brought up something that you knew nothing about, but didn’t want to admit that you did so you just went along with the conversation?  If so, you probably tried to construct some basic context on the subject from the words that the other person was using.  How much sense did that conversation make to you?  How did you feel afterwards?

A lot of people try to do something very similar with their personal philosophy. They take the definition of each of the two worlds, “personal” and “philosophy”, put them together and use this as the context for developing theirs. Doing so is not much different than trying to have a conversation with someone about something that you don’t really know anything about and trying to use the words they are saying to create context and construct reasonable responses. The personal philosophies that result from this approach are likely to be as well thought out and meaningful as the responses to a conversation on a topic we don’t understand that are constructed only in the context of the words the other person is speaking.

Your personal philosophy can be one of the transformative things you ever develop. The more knowledgeable you are about personal philosophies and what is involved in effectively developing them.

You shortcut the process of developing yours.

If you haven’t developed your personal philosophy, please consider trying to do so simply by answering the question, “what is my personal philosophy?” is risky and not recommended.

The process of developing an effective personal philosophy necessarily involves understanding your perspective on the world and refining this into what is most essential to you. It is easy to look at parts of the process and dismiss them or to think that you have already done this throughout your life and additional effort now is redundant. It is common for people to want to jump right to putting words together and stating their personal philosophy. While stating or expressing your personal philosophy in a meaningful way is important, doing so as the first part of developing yours, skips necessary aspects of the process. Taking time to actively know and revisit and evaluate our perspective on the world as well as being in touch with yourself helps you understand your personal philosophy to a degree that most do not have floating around in their thoughts. Jumping right to creating an answer in words or writing can create a roadblock for crafting your personal philosophy. By trying to put words to your personal philosophy without first establishing the mindset of your perspective on the world and without connecting with yourself effectively short circuits defining it. When you attempt to put words to your personal philosophy without the necessary context and mindset, those initial words and thoughts set the tone and course. Who knows what inspires those initial thoughts, perhaps it was a conversation from yesterday or a book that you recently read or the current focus of your life, whether or not that focus is truly meaningful to you. Wherever they come from they set a tone and course that is likely very different than the one that you would set if you took the time to reconnect with your broader perspective and yourself before you jump writing. It’s kind of like what happens in Ghostbusters with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, once conjured it takes a whole lot to make it go away and it’s messy cleaning up afterwards.

It isn’t really your personal philosophy.

You can adopt any view of the world and use it to create a meaningful life. This is the foundation for all organized religions as well as general philosophies of life. Doing so requires relying upon pure faith or to adopt someone else’s thinking wholesale. Your personal philosophy is based upon what you know and understand about the world and life and your reasons why you believe it to be true.

The challenge with taking the approach of adopting someone else’s prescription for understanding the world and life is that you, like everyone else who is following the same philosophy, gets the same prescription for life and living, regardless of how well it does or does not align with who you are as an individual and your perspective on the world. In reality you cannot fully clear your slate of your perspective and what is essential to you. Regardless of how powerful the indoctrination is, eventually the discontinuity between what you know and what you are told to believe will surface. The individual in you will seek self-preservation. Too, since these are general prescriptions, they leave you seeking how to answer important practical questions in life including what you want your life to amount to in specifics.

Adopting someone else’s personal philosophy or a general philosophy on life is fundamentally no different than adopting a religion. You can follow and live it. It can create meaning and purpose in your life, but eventually the discontinuity will surface and here too the individual in you will seek self-preservation.

The view that any good philosophy will do is true if you are just looking for a basis to get through life. If you are looking to live an engaged, self-aware, enlightened life it could not be more untrue.

It's too general to be of any real value.

It’s interesting that the origin of fortune cookies is not clear.  One can say that the origin of the fortune cookie is vague and uncertain like many of the fortunes contained in them.  Like fortune cookie fortunes, personal philosophies can be too general, vague or simplistic.

Overly general personal philosophies are difficult to use for any practical purpose in your life.  These approaches would seem to work better as a caption for a photo meme or printed for a fortune cookie with lucky numbers rather than guidance for one’s life.

There are also philosophies on life that are essentially a list of popular idioms or aphorisms people have collected together. They are effectively a set of clichés like “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and “Always do your best.” These in many ways are as much of a personal philosophy as is a car covered in bumper stickers. While, there is nothing wrong with drawing upon existing knowledge and making it part of your personal philosophy if it speaks to you, effective personal philosophy contains enough specifics so that you can use it in practical ways in your life.

Some popular current uses of the concepts of personal philosophies and personal philosophies on life and the related terms of personal philosophy statements, personal mission statements and credos seem to be less than an effective personal philosophy. Many of these approaches include prescriptions for developing a personal philosophy through answering 3-5 questions in an afternoon and boiling one’s entire perspective on the world and life down to a single sentence. Doing so might be a good way to create slogans for bumper stickers or fortunes for cookies, but not for developing a personal philosophy that has real value in your life.

You don’t actively know it.

To a greater or lesser extent, we each have a personal philosophy whether we know it or not. There is a world of difference between actively knowing one’s personal philosophy and it being something that we have a general idea about even if that general idea includes some specifics. It’s like the difference between being in the rain versus knowing that there is rain somewhere in your area.

Having a personal philosophy that is somewhere in your mind is like seeing rain clouds in your area, or storms on the radar on your smartphone. You can draw upon your imagination and think what it would be like if they came your way.

Actively knowing your personal philosophy is like being in the rain. You can feel the cold bursts of wind and the smell of rain immediately before it arrives. You can hear the sound of the first few raindrops hitting the tops of cars with resounding “tings.” You can feel them hit your skin one after another. You can decide to seek shelter before you get too wet or to stand in the rain and enjoy the feeling until you and your clothes are completely soaked and you are refreshed on a hot summer day.

It isn’t useful in your life.

A personal philosophy that is not useful in your life is in some ways not a personal philosophy or at the very least not an effective personal philosophy.

We have touched on some specific reasons that a personal philosophy may not be useful in your life including not really being your personal philosophy and being too general. There are other important reasons that a personal philosophy may not be useful in your life. One big one is allowing yourself to define what is most essential and how you think life should be lived and how the world should be. We are highly conditioned to turn to others on these matters. This conditioning is compounded by the constant social pressure and the ongoing manipulation from the institutions and systems we have created that create barriers in knowing yourself independent from their influence and manipulation.

Working to connect with your perspective on the world and yourself are important and challenging aspects of crafting a personal philosophy that speaks to you and is useful in your life.  Making these connections may require more than one attempt as may developing the skills to refine, express and integrate your personal philosophy into your life.

The LifePhilosophy.net is here to provide you the help you need along the way.

You don’t use it in your life.

When done well the experience of developing a personal philosophy can be transformational and making it a part of your life comes naturally. It is common for it to begin to become part of your life while you are still in the process of crafting it. The experience of connecting with your perspective on the world and yourself along with understanding, refining and expressing your personal philosophy usually results in it starting to become an active part of your life without even realizing it. Fully making it part of your life typically requires more intentionality.

If this is not your experience, you might want to revisit the process you went through to develop your personal philosophy as well as spending some time reevaluating it. If your personal philosophy is not ringing true to you, naturally becoming part of your life and becoming a source of meaning or inspiration, you may have not effectively identified the things in the world that are most significant to you. This disconnect is something that is not hard to do considering the need to differentiate your self-knowledge from the constant stream of messaging and influence from others targeted at yourself.

Beyond that pressure, there can be real reasons that get in the way of using your personal philosophy in your life. For most, using their personal philosophy in their life is a new reality and a significant change. Like any change it involves breaking old patterns and routines and/or creating new ones. Doing so can require concerted effort and focus. It can be good to start with small things and work up to larger ones and as new opportunities present themselves. Like any change it can take some time to integrate your personal philosophy into your life.

Your personal philosophy may also bring to light that there are significant parts of your life that are out of alignment with you. Your livelihood is one common aspect that can be out of sync. Making a change to aspects that are central to how we generally structure our lives requires intentionality, planning and support. If your personal philosophy inspires you to make a significant life change, being able to discuss it with others in your family or that you trust can be helpful. It can help them better understand you and support you along the way.

You don’t develop yours.

You can’t use what you don’t have. You can’t live a personal philosophy that you never develop.

One of the biggest mistakes people make about personal philosophies is that they don’t develop theirs. There are a lot of reasons that this happens. Developing a personal philosophy involves real effort and can touch upon some tricky parts of life and being human. Considering the value that an effective personal philosophy can bring to your life and the world, please make a commitment to developing yours, however you go about doing so.

Things to know before you begin developing your personal philosophy

Have a good understanding of personal philosophies

Like with most things, having a good understanding of personal philosophies before you actively start developing yours helps you craft yours well. The Life Philosophy Learning Center can provide you the knowledge of personal philosophies you need.

The Life Philosophy Learning Center provides a good foundation of knowledge on personal philosophies including:

Foundational Context

Life Philosophy 101 (including):

A Deeper Dive (including):

If you have not already done so, please consider covering this content.

On Terms of Your Own: The Pursuit of Being and Fulfillment in a Challenging World is also a great resource for learning about personal philosophies and developing yours.

Know what is involved in developing a personal philosophy.

Developing a personal philosophy requires you to have a reasonably developed perspective on the world and of yourself.  From this perspective you identify what is most significant to you, refine your understanding of what is most significant and express it so that you can use it in your life.

The process of developing a personal philosophy can be transformational as you connect with your understanding of the world and yourself. A well-developed and expressed personal philosophy is a powerful asset in your life.

Considering all that is involved in developing a personal philosophy, it is not something that one does casually one evening. Developing a personal philosophy requires you to connect with and understand your perspective on the world.  Having a reasonably expansive perspective is important and some may find that they need to further develop theirs to support a robust personal philosophy. Similarly, you need to connect with yourself. Self-knowledge and an understanding of yourself can be tricky to get at and may require more focus for some than others. That said, connecting with your perspective on the world and with yourself can be a rewarding experience itself.

Bringing together what is most significant from the world through the lens of self-knowledge is a key event in the process of developing your personal philosophy. There can be a lot to sort through and a lot of noise from some of the barriers that we encounter.

The act of making your personal philosophy tangible helps to make it something you can understand and use in your life. Converting concepts, that can be weighty, into a form that makes sense and is not overly complex is the key to doing so.

Developing your personal philosophy is not a one-time event. We all continue to grow and learn and the world continues to change. As you grow and learn new things that are especially significant to you or when there are major changes in the world, your personal philosophy will likely grow or evolve as well.

The Life Philosophy Development Center that is a part of this website is a good place to learn more about what is involved with developing your personal philosophy.

Understand some of the barriers you may encounter when developing your personal philosophy.

One of the major reasons people do not have personal philosophies is that there are real barriers in place for developing them. These barriers come from those closest to us, our culture and society, our institutions and even ourselves. Awareness of these barriers will help you address them as you develop and live your personal philosophy.

Humans are inherently social beings that seek to relate and belong. This social nature drives us to define and conform to norms. There are also powerful forces in place in our institutions and systems including government, financial, business, religious and education that shape us in intentional ways. Many of them are not for our benefit.

The first barrier that one has to overcome as they look to develop their personal philosophy is acknowledging that one has the right to do so. Historically, it has been the domain of wise men, philosophers and religious elites to understand the nature of the world and to define the prescription for living properly. There is no valid reason for this to continue. Allowing it to is dismissing your agency in a consequential way.

There also are strong pressures on us to act and be in ways that align with others’ expectations and aims. Many of these pressures come from those closest to us including our family and friends. These expectations and aims can be beneficial and help one develop in positive ways. Even so are limiting and even harmful when they are significantly out of alignment with our individual nature and self. Our culture and society form the next-level of these pressures by establishing social norms. While these norms can form cohesion, they can also be problematic for those that don’t fall in line especially when they are accompanied by aggressive compulsion, sometimes even intimidation and acts of violence.

Our governmental, financial and business institutions, regardless of their specific structure all seek to have compliant productive members of society that advance their interests. Governments enact and enforce laws to compel people to comply, financial systems leverage power and wealth and businesses employ both as well as advanced computer driven manipulation to shape our minds.

To cut through all of these pressures toward homogeneity of individuals, you need to be actively aware of them and work to fend them off. Lest what we all identify as significant to us is nothing but a reiteration of what others want us to think and feel, and we all share the same impersonal philosophy.

I am, then, a short-term pessimist but a long-term optimist.  If our mission is an endless search, how can we fail?  In the short run, institutions and professions, even language keep us in the discouraging ruts.  But in the long term the ruts wear away and adventuring amateurs reward us by a wonderful vagrancy into the unexpected.

Daniel J. Boorstin in his personal philosophy in Living Philosophies, 1990

Understand your motivation for developing your personal philosophy.

An understanding of your motivation for developing your personal philosophy will be helpful as you work through the process of developing yours and especially as you look to make it a part of your life.

Just as there is no right or wrong personal philosophy, there is no right or wrong reason to develop yours. As part of the free tools that are provided by LifePhilosophy.net, we have included an assessment in the Life Philosophy Development Center to help you capture your motivation for developing your personal philosophy.  There are also assessments to help you understand other important considerations before you begin.

Have an approach and plan for how you will craft your personal philosophy.

Developing your personal philosophy and applying it to your life is no small undertaking. There is much involved in it and having a defined approach and plan is helpful.

Developing a personal philosophy requires you to consider your knowledge of the world, your knowledge of your self, and to bring this together into what is most significant to you. Having a plan for how you will do so and how you will express the result helps avoid a lot of mental wandering, lack of progress and potential disappointment.  

One high-level plan is the approach recommended LifePhilosophy.net. This approach is developed around a series of segments each with a specific scope and purpose. This approach helps you complete each of the necessary parts of developing your personal philosophy and to realize tangible progress as you do so.

We have also covered what is involved in developing a personal philosophy at a high level. You can refer to both of these and develop your own plan and approach, if you’d like. The important consideration is that you pursue and successfully develop your personal philosophy and make it a part of your life.

A few additional helpful tips for when you are developing your personal philosophy.

Developing your personal philosophy is made easier through organizing all that goes into it and there are common roadblocks along the way you need to be prepared for.  It is also helpful to have someone to talk with along the way.

While developing your life philosophy, being able to identify and keep track of what is most significant to you and your thoughts and feelings about them can be made easier through being organized. Regardless of the approach you take, there are parts of the process that are more challenging than others.

As you start looking at what you know about the world and what is essential to you, it is possible to become overwhelmed with the possibilities. It can be difficult identifying what is essential from all that you find significant. Having a way to organize your thoughts so that you can evaluate them before you jump into expressing your personal philosophy helps you develop a view of your perspective on the world that you can work through. Consider deciding how you will do so before you begin.

Like with any significant endeavor, roadblocks will be encountered. Understanding this and having an approach for how you handle them will greatly improve getting beyond them. Some common roadblocks that can be encountered include:

  • finding time and mental space,
  • difficulty connecting with what is most significant in the world beyond this week’s media hype,
  • sorting through the junk others have inserted into your self-knowledge that seems to be a part of yourself,
  • consolidating what you find significant into what is essential so that your personal philosophy is not encyclopedic in scope, and
  • being able to express your thoughts in ways that capture their full meaning.

Having someone to talk with that you trust along the way can be invaluable as can be having someone who has experience with developing personal philosophies and helping others do so.

Be better equipped to develop and live your personal philosophy.


On Terms of Your Own:

The Pursuit of Being and Fulfillment in a Challenging World.

Available in paperback or as an ebook

Next:  Get started with developing your personal philosophy.