A concept that I find is really helping me to guide my path and help me to focus how I’m working on things is this idea of alignment.
Being aligned with something.
It’s a way of looking at your self-development, your path, your mission, how you’re spending your time and energy, what you’re focusing on.
It’s the idea of having some kind of a principle, something you believe in, some kind of a value, something you feel is important.
It could be an abstract idea, like one of the classical virtues, like courage, justice, wisdom, temperance.
It could be a religious ideal, could be God.
It could be some kind of a vision that you have of what is good.
It could even be a specific person or a specific project that somehow has some kind of a vision, an ideal, a concept of what is good.
And the idea is that you can hold this in your mind, and really a lot of the work is just really revealing this ideal and exploring the ideal, what it means to you, what is your ideal of the good.
But it doesn’t have to be something that you precisely define and write out in words.
That can be helpful to do that, but you don’t need to have it fully explicated.
You just need to have some kind of a concept of it, some kind of an idea, a vision, even if it’s just a vague notion, but something that you can sort of feel inside.
And the idea of alignment is simply that everything in your life, everything you choose to do, everything that you work on and focus on, all your decisions, you can call this ideal to mind, call this vision to mind, and really ask yourself, with this decision, is this bringing me closer to this ideal? Or is it taking me away from the ideal? Or is it completely indifferent? And the focus of the work can become on bending ourselves towards this ideal.
By simply holding this ideal in mind and then comparing what we do to that ideal, asking ourselves whether we are acting in alignment with this thing, that can help to guide all our decisions.
I mean, it seems like we do this anyway, unconsciously, one way or another.
If we’re working on improving ourselves, changing ourselves, we have some kind of idea of what we want to become.
Maybe if we want to overcome bad habits, well, we have a vision of somebody who doesn’t have those bad habits, and we are trying to bend ourselves towards that ideal.
Or maybe we just have a vision of how bad it can be to do things badly, and then we’re trying to bend ourselves away from that ideal.
And that can be valuable too, to simply have this kind of anti-ideal, that we try to not become like that.
But that seems to be not as complete.
It’s not complete, because there’s so many ways to not be like something that it doesn’t offer specific enough of a vision to just, you know, avoid being the terrible person.
That can be a start.
But what would it mean to be a good person, a person that we want to be? By thinking about this consciously, and consciously developing this ideal inside ourselves, we can help to make it clear how we want to change, what we want to become, how we want to live our lives.
And then in all the chaos and confusion of all the events that come up, all the things that happen day after day, it can be powerful to have this kind of a guidepost, signal, central point that we can orient towards to help protect us from being led all over the place by all the momentary things that are happening and pulling us in one direction or another.
So it helps us make decisions moment to moment, and also provides an overall focus for any kind of work in self-development.
Well, you’re trying to get better: well, what does it mean to get better? Well, we have all these different things that we’re doing to try to improve our lives.
Sometimes, self-development work can become very scattered too.
I’m improving my diet.
I’m improving my exercise.
I’m improving my mental state.
I’m working on learning this, learning that.
Working on overcoming this habit.
All these different pieces, which are individually, they’re great to work on by themselves.
Each single change, even the smallest change, can help us a lot.
But having an ideal to focus our energies on combines all the different work that we’re doing in self-development and unites it into a single mission, working towards being a better person.
It starts to take on a more defined shape.
Even if it still is this abstract ideal, it’s not something absolutely clear, but it’s sort of shaped around this ideal. […]
Those ideals: seems like they can come from philosophy, from religion, they can come from mythology and stories, they can come from your personal life, maybe people you know, experiences you’ve had, that we can each sort of build our own philosophy.
But somehow, out of all these experiences, we can form an idea of what is good, and then we can do what we can to bend ourselves into alignment with this ideal of what is good.
#ideals #alignment #alignyourself