Your Day-to-Day Philosophies

Sixteen choices we should make consciously.

Posted Mar 03, 2021 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader

 William Murillo/Noun Project, CC
Source: William Murillo/Noun Project, CC

We all operate under various day-to-day philosophies, perhaps unconsciously. If you make those choices consciously, you’ll more consistently live by your philosophies and occasionally decide to change one.

To encourage that consciousness, here are 16 issues on which people’s philosophy varies. For each, I offer two people's quite different philosophies.

Complex vs. simple life

Most super-successful, super-busy people I know aren’t happier than are people with a simple life, so why not choose simple?

My five-ring circus life is invigorating. Sure it’s sometimes exhausting, but it's good exhausting. Being so busy, I'm too busy to worry about my issues, which is great. I'm happier ... and more successful.

Diet

If it’s one thing that medical science has long agreed on is that being slim improves health and longevity. So I mainly eat low-calorie foods I like. Small sacrifice.

People fearful of death obsess about diet because they have control over it. But diet is oversold. The chance of my not-keto, slightly indulgent diet killing me is small. The chance of my diet giving me pleasure is 100%.

Assertiveness

Only the strong survive let alone thrive. So I try to invoke my inner fierce badass.

Ultimately, it feels wise and, yes, loving, to—while not getting walked over—strive to be a gentle spirit amid our often harsh world. 

Internal vs. external locus of control

I won’t let my life be buffeted. If I want to live the life I want, sure, luck matters, but I have to do all I can.

I should not be too willful. Again and again, the Bible tells us to surrender to God’s will. For example: "Be not wise in your own eyes. God shall supply all your need." Philippians 4:19. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:1. "If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20.

Monogamy

Cheating is playing with fire. Even many good long-term relationships are torn apart by an affair. In addition, knowing you’re faithful to each other can deepen the relationship.

Monogamy is unrealistic in a long-term relationship, even a good one. If the primary relationship is solid, “straying” can give great pleasure without imposing undue risk. And if the primary relationship is bad, it may be a good thing if the affair breaks it up.

Mind-altering substances

I enjoy alcohol and weed. I can’t worry about what may never hurt me and if it does, it probably will be a long time in the future.

I don’t want to hurt my body. There are lots of other ways to enjoy my time.

Work-life balance

My job isn’t so contributory that I want to sacrifice time for family, fun, and personal issues.

I find that working for hours 41 to 50 or even 60 to be wiser than spending it in on what I’d otherwise be doing.

Self-acceptance vs. change

At this point in my life, I basically am who I am. It’s wiser to work toward self-acceptance than to subject myself to yet another round of self-improvement efforts.

I want to keep growing until the day I die. Sure, the growth is just incremental, but that too has value.

Process or suppress

The juice of life is in processing what happens to us. That’s why I like discussing feelings with my sweetie, and why I’ve been in and out of therapy my whole life.

The more I think about my issues, the sadder I become. So after quickly deciding if I can address the problem, I suppress thoughts of it and turn to my next constructive activity.

Cleanliness

I don’t mind cleaning because it yields a concrete result, and it feels good to have a clean house. Also, unless my house, especially my desk, is clean, I’m distracted. I can’t be productive.

Undue cleaning is a mere procrastination move. Plenty of people can accomplish much with a messy desk or home.

Parenting

I’ve seen too many children of lenient parents turn out bad. I believe in firm limits.

I believe in giving kids a lot of flexibility. They’ll end up better decision-makers if they learn from their mistakes than if I set all the rules. Besides, it's easier on me, and we’ll likely stay closer through my lifetime.

Charity

I am privileged, so it feels only right to donate as much as I can to the less fortunate.

I believe I do more good by investing my discretionary income in a worthy startup that needs money than in donating to charity. Plus, if my choice of investment is correct, it will yield me a return.

Loyalty

In a world in which, for example, an already rich pro athlete will change teams to make just a bit more, it seems more important than ever to stick by your friends, and especially your romantic partner through thick and thin.

Loyalty is irrational. I think of all the politicians, executives, and admins who remained loyal to a sleazy boss. You should befriend or be employed by someone only when, ongoing, they’re worthy of you.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is usually a silly indulgence. Sure, if you’re a Rembrandt or Shakespeare, it’s worth being a perfectionist. But for we mere mortals, diddling well past the point of diminishing returns is likely an excuse for not taking on the next project, which would require more effort. I think, for example, of the job seeker who keeps polishing the resume, which avoids the more difficult task of networking.

There is too much shoddy work in this world. I want anyone who hires me to know that I will strive for excellence. If they want quick-and-dirty, they’ve got the wrong person.

Praise

We all like praise and if it’s earned, I love giving it. It’s the just and kind thing to do.

Too often, when I praise someone, they seem to think I’m sucking up. Or it confirms their thinking that I’m less-than. And if it’s a supervisee, s/he's more likely to ask favors or for a raise. So I praise sparingly.

Death

I don’t think about death. It’s probably a long way away and I don’t want to poison the good times by thinking about something I have little control over other than diet, exercise, blah-blah-blah.

I won’t know what being dead is like any more than I knew what life was like before I was born. And if dying is too painful, I’ll get a doc to off me. If I don't live in a state where that's legal, I'll fly to where it is, even if necessary, to Switzerland.

So, is there at least one day-to-day philosophy of yours that you’d like to keep in mind? Is there one you’d like to change?

I read this aloud on YouTube.