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Is an unexamined life

worth living?

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wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 16-Sep-2015 11:17 Message #4587887
This was philosopher Socrates great question.

I don't think it is, to question the world and most importantly yourself seems to me to be the most wonderfully expansive, difficult, honest, painful thing you can do and to me a life without this is unthinkable.
nellieredshoes  Female  West Yorkshire 16-Sep-2015 12:19 Message #4587890
To you and I henny but for lots of others their life seems happy enough without it. Personally I couldn't live like that but perhaps if I did life might be less uncomplicated.
matrix  Female  East Anglia 16-Sep-2015 17:35 Message #4587917
At first I thought how arrogant, who says how you should live your life? If you live for the next episode of Big Brother, read only fiction, can't exist without Coronation Street or East Enders, and browse The Next catalogue so what?
I know people like this, I just wouldn't make them my friend because we have nothing in common. Is it their fault that they are so blind? For me examining myself is like breathing but is this down to nature or nurture?
FREE  Female  Somerset 16-Sep-2015 18:23 Message #4587920
I have an enquiring mind that soaks up information like a sponge. So for me, my life would feel very empty and flat if I didn't question, analyse and make sense of myself and the world around me. But for those who don't feel the need to, I doubt they feel they're missing anything. They'll no doubt fill their lives with other stuff.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 16-Sep-2015 18:54 Message #4587923
I've met plenty of people who seem to need very little in the way of questions to live happy lives, but I'm not one of them. They seem to see me as as odd as I find them, but its funny how its always me they come to when when events overtake them, then they see the point of an examined life.

To me its not just examining my life, but how I connect with everything else around me or don't. I once read that if you seek the lessons of this incarnation then to look at what repeats itself.

Its not just information I want, but understanding, to know, I think thats what sends me on so many inner quests as well as a few outer ones.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire 16-Sep-2015 19:16 Message #4587932
ah, I think that perhaps contentment with your lot is probably quite enviable.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 16-Sep-2015 19:24 Message #4587940
Are people who don't examine thier lives content? As they seem to fill up thier time with the acquisition of material goods I'd have to question the basis of that contentment.
FREE  Female  Somerset 16-Sep-2015 19:40 Message #4587944
I have a friend who doesn't have any interest in examining her life or the world around her. She thinks most of my ideas and philosophies are barking mad. She's very materialistic, everything is about appearances. She doesn't strike me as content though, she finds it impossible to relax and is in an almost constant state of worry. I'm not sure either mindset is preferable to the other. Thers's no wrong or right, just different.
Victoriana11  Female  Buckinghamshire 16-Sep-2015 20:09 Message #4587951
it comes back to individuality, everyone is different. We all have different needs. What suits one person may not suit another
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire 16-Sep-2015 20:54 Message #4587959
What makes you think that people who don't examine their life fill it with material goods? Some might, but some might not.
The content ones are unlikely to be the individuals who are pursuing the great god mammon.
My underlying point was to suggest that the pursuit of self can be every bit as disturbing to ones peace of mind as the pursuit of materialism. Neither are the two things mutually exclusive, and both could be a search for happiness and in many people they probably are.
To be questioning is neither good or bad, and the same could be said of those who do not question but accept things at face value. We are how we are, and there is nothing wrong with being either.
One day I will get around to reading that book "Women who think too much". Though I rather think that I might be a bit disappointed nowadays.
One thing that I have been training myself to do is not to overthink things. And the reason for doing that is that I have realised comparatively recently that our feelings are a direct consequence of our thoughts. Much of my disquiet that I experience is a direct consequence of my over analysing and questioning nature. I only realised very recently how much stress that causes me.
Argonaut  Male  Lancashire 16-Sep-2015 21:55 Message #4587972
"Some as do an' some as don't"

I heard that phrase recently and although it was in a totally different context it seems an appropriate response here.

In my opinion there are some who have the ability to examine their inner thoughts and motives and some who don't seem to have this ability.

I see nothing wrong in Socrates' comment when applied to 'those who can' but fail to see how it could be applied to those who don't seem to have this ability.

Then there is another façade to this as well, if someone's life is running smoothly and they're not having an adverse affect on those around them, or dependent on them, then what would be the point?

OK, so those who have indulged in introspection have, no doubt, discovered both benefits and drawbacks - some have come off better and some have come off worse.

All belief systems (again, in my opinion), whether religious or otherwise, have arisen from introspection and consider how many of these systems are riddled with flaws.

One potential downside to this is that some people may seek guidance in order to improve their introspection and could end up being misguided either unintentionally or otherwise - radicalisation and sects come to mind here.

As to where it comes from, I believe we are born with a certain capacity for intelligence, some more than others, but then Nurture takes over and either enhances that capacity (or drives it), or dulls it.

Those are my thoughts on the subject - and here's another one:

Why am I the first male contributor to this subject?

wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 17-Sep-2015 11:32 Message #4588039
Minnie I see many people who don't do introspection but who are materialistic, they may not always go together but often seem too. I used to overthink then I started to interrogate my overthinking and ask why I was doing it, who I was doing it for, what was in it for me and what would happen if I stopped? Gradually I did learn to stop.

Jason, you know I was going to ask the same question, I wonder if it leads on to another post which is about the different ways men and women communicate, I can't remember what its called but its in the D&R room.

I think nurture plays a great role, some one who brought up to ask questions and explore will use more of their intelligence and maybe more intelligence will develop, I don't know if we're born with a set intellectual capacity or not? I think introspection can be taught, I used to send my kids off to their rooms to think about why what they'd done was wrong, after a time if they really couldn't think of a satisfactory answer I'd explain it to them, but it did teach them them introspection.

Of course people who ask questions will seek answers and some on the people who seek to provide answers will be charlatans of some sort, but that shouldn't stop the self examination. Having been an inner explorer for as long as I can remember and met many others, I think its not the questioners who fall prey to charlatans, but those unused to questioning, their existing beliefs and thought processes get overwhelmed and over written by flim flam. Those who do question may immerse themselves in some new ideas, but my experience is that they always come out of it and take whatever they find good and leave the dross behind.

I don't see this question in terms of good or bad, but I'm finding interesting that its come up. Where does good and bad come into an 'examined life'?
matrix  Female  East Anglia 17-Sep-2015 12:51 Message #4588052
I think a lot of introspection comes from pain. Making sense of my pain was the only way forward out of the hole. Why is this happening? What made them do that?
Who am I? Then you go on to make sense of the dynamic between people.
My existence has had to make sense to give my existence credibility.
Existential thinking is second nature to me, often I wish is wasn't.
Sometimes I can't find the switch to turn it off, overthinking can be unproductive and leave me just wanting to be with someone who's world seems a lot more simple.
I think my dating life has mirrored my needs, I go for uncomplicated, someone who likes a giggle and can express themselves with their body and not just their mind.
FREE  Female  Somerset 17-Sep-2015 14:51 Message #4588060
Habitual over thinking isn't good for one's peace of mind. But I trust my gut instinct, and when I find myself questioning something that's causing me upset, I know it needs to be addressed head on. Being told I'm over analysing or have too much time on my hands is arrogant, disrespectful of my feelings, and a cop out. I'm not a pushover, I know when something doesn't feel right and will voice my thoughts whether others like it or not.

Picking up on what Matrix said: I do find by exploring the reasons why someone did or said something that hurt me, it does help to lessen the anxiety and promote healing. It also reminds me that I'm not a victim. People can't hurt me unless I allow them to.

wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 17-Sep-2015 19:06 Message #4588086
Good posts from Matrix and Mellow, I think adversity necessitates a certain amount of introspection, you'll either go on hurting yourself by not learning from experience or hurting others.

I found the way out of overthinking something that I couldn't help but think about, is to treat it like an academic question and ask questions of the question, this often brings up a whole new set of questions, but it also brings up a whole new set of insights and helps take the emotional sting from it. Then you just get down to feeling what you really need to feel uninterrupted, I think that fully allowing yourself to feel what you need to feel at the time you feel it lessens the time you feel it, you just feel it more intensely.
SQL  Male  Devon 18-Sep-2015 21:36 Message #4588239
"Is an unexamined life worth living?"

To me it depend on the purpose of the 'examination', yes I think a lot. I find my mind only stops when I am watching TV (very rare), a film or when I command it to stop (hypnosis). Self examination is very rare in my case as I believe 'Life Happens'.

When I have a good day I enjoy it, I don't analyse why it's good apart from recognising what particular event(s) were good. Similarly for the not-so-good days and I've had a few thousand of those as well. Dwelling on what is wrong in your life will only prolong the discomfort I believe. There is a well known saying/prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

If you don't believe in God then substitute something else to suit your beliefs.

I have a slightly different theme I live by:

If you are having a good day then enjoy it.
If you are having a bad day then things WILL improve.
If you can do anything to improve your and others lives then do it.
You are in control of your brain, don't ever let anyone else take that away from you.

We are all living under a sentence of death - it's called life, you are a long time dead.

wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 19-Sep-2015 09:42 Message #4588279
Life's a hell of a thing to happen to someone. But I don't see examination as non acceptance of lifes ups and downs, in fact I see it as the opposite, examination helps me to accept them.
Timmee  Male  Hampshire 21-Sep-2015 10:31 Message #4588608
One of my favourite books is George Eliot's 'Middlemarch'

I love what she as to say about unexamined lives in her concluding remarks about the book's heroine Dorothea Brooke...

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

Her prose can be a little turgid sometimes but I adore Middlemarch! If you don't have the stomach for 850 pages of Victorian polymath prose then there was a wonderful multi-part BBC adaptation a few years back - I have that DVD too.

Although I called her prose 'turgid' that's not a criticism of Middlemarch - that's a personal gripe about Daniel Deronda and Romola - blimey I struggled with those.

Middlemarch is wonderful. I love some of the deft humour as poor Fred Vincey has to suck-up to rich relative Peter Featherstone and suffer the teasing of Mary Garth, whom he loves. Outstanding Stuff!
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 21-Sep-2015 11:41 Message #4588629
Sorry Timmee, I couldn't relate your quotes to the topic under discussion, mayabe its because I've never read George Eliot. The Victorians tend to set my teeth on edge.
Timmee  Male  Hampshire 22-Sep-2015 13:36 Message #4588789
Fair enough Hen - no offence taken.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 22-Sep-2015 18:55 Message #4588847
Don't appologise Timmmee, I was hoping you explain it to this poor ignorant soul.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire 22-Sep-2015 19:00 Message #4588854
is any life worth living?

examined, or otherwise.
Timmee  Male  Hampshire 22-Sep-2015 19:50 Message #4588870
Right-oh Hen.

Your title about unexamined lives made me think of this famous passage from the end of Middlemarch.

I think George Eliot was saying that the world is a better place because of countless little good deeds and kindnesses performed by people who live in obscurity, and whose lives pass un-examined by posterity and whose good deeds go unrecorded. She says that her creation Dorothea is such a person. She lived a relatively obscure life, will be buried, and her life will go unexamined by future generations.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire 22-Sep-2015 20:11 Message #4588881
" the world is a better place because of countless little good deeds and kindnesses "

oh, it most certainly is.

sometimes little good deeds are actually great kindnesses, if you happen to be on the receiving end.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 23-Sep-2015 12:01 Message #4588960
Right I get what you mean Timmee, but I was actually thinking more of self examination rather than biographic examination. Although I agree small kindnesses are what makes the world go round.

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