We realize that the default cultural script does not deliver on its promises. We need a new one. We need a philosophy of life. We need a framework of values and prescriptions that we can use as a starting point for living out our lives in such a way that they will be a beautiful work of art.
Before we get into the specifics of evaluating a particular philosophy of life, I’ll define my requirements for it:
- Christian but Universal. The philosophy I find must conform to my Christian faith. I need to be able to combine meaning I get from my life’s pursuits with ultimate meaning I get by faith within my religion. At the same time, we all live in the same world and deal with the same human condition, so the philosophy of life must be as universally applicable as possible. If I had a choice between an approach that only worked for my denomination or religion and an approach that worked for everyone, I’ll pick the latter.
- Achievable Right Now. This shouldn’t be something I need to spend twenty years on in order to see results. I should be able to see results from following the philosophy of life right now. I don’t have two thousand years to experiment, so results must happen quickly, and I must be able to adjust the plan. I can’t afford to just “trust” that in decades the real results will come through.
- Relational. If a philosophy of life tells me to live life by living alone on a mountain for decades, it’s the wrong one for me. I must relate to others. I must love my wife and family more. I must grow in serving and helping others. I must be motivated to help my community and those who are less fortunate than I am.
- Historical. If a philosophy of life is something someone just dreamed up, it’s probably not going to work. Human condition in the civilized world has not changed so much in the last two to three thousand years that we can’t rely on the wisdom of those who have gone before us. So a philosophy of life isn’t something I should create; it should be something I discover, and then tweak to fit my specifics.
- Moral. It must be something that enables me to be a better person and do good for others. It should be centered around love, which selflessly looks at the interests of others above one’s own.
Those are my requirements for finding a philosophy of life that will lead to happiness and meaning in my life. I’m sure yours are different, and that’s great.