A Practical Philosophy
Many people today are finding meaning and purpose in attaining a philosophy for life which is both practical and applicable to living in the modern world. Whether that philosophy is taken from the eastern traditions of Zen Buddhism or Taoism or is drawn from the ancient schools of Philosophy such as Stoicism or Epicureanism, people are finding benefit in applying their chosen philosophy through daily practices and principles that improve their lives and allow them to meet and overcome daily challenges.
Psychologists have demonstrated that people who commit to a personal philosophy of life consistently practice principles and demonstrate virtues that lead to personal satisfaction and physical and emotional well-being compared to people that have no philosophy of life at all. The revolutionary psychologist Albert Ellis was inspired by classical Eastern and Western philosophies in developing rational emotive behavior therapy to help people with depression and addiction issues (Ellis, 2001).
Depression, anxiety, anger, fear and conflict are many of the common problems that we see in society today and often we suffer them ourselves much of it through our own fault. We would prefer to blame others, our circumstances, bad luck and society for our problems without looking at our own part in the mess we find ourselves in. Through rigorous self-honesty, acceptance and commitment, each of us can choose how we respond to our negative emotions and thereby how we empower them or not and the degree to which they afflict our lives. Each of us can decide how we want to live our lives and what virtues we wish to cultivate and how we choose to respond to life moment to moment. Training in a real world Philosophy can provide us with the knowledge and skills to achieve equanimity, objectivity and harmony with self and others.
Many people also find a sense of spirituality through their Philosophy and a realization of a higher purpose in their lives than simply living to achieve instant gratification, material gains, status and fame. They realize they are part of something greater than themselves and become aware of their connectivity to other human beings, to nature and the universe and life becomes more meaningful and joyful than they ever realized before. They realize their place in the world and the impermanent and transitory nature of life.
Without embracing the doctrines and dogma of organized religion, one can achieve a good life that is spiritual, meaningful and powerful through training in a Philosophy of Life. One can live each day mindfully and spend their life in the moment rather than in regret of the past or fear of the future. You can be emotionally resilient, physically fitter, more aware of your own needs and the needs of others and ultimately more contented and happy in your existence than you ever felt possible. Once you change yourself for the better you will find that people treat you better and so does life, the clouds part and you have the power and confidence to deal with life on life’s terms. You also become an inspiration to others and in some small way you make the world a better place.
I practice Jedi Philosophy as a Philosophy for Life, in other words I am not satisfied to simply cite the tenets and take an academic approach as many students of Philosophy do. To be Jedi is to live the Philosophy because it provides the answers and a formula for living that works for me. This does not mean that I consider myself a Jedi Knight or Master of the Star Wars fictional universe and wear robes and carry a Light Sabre, far from it. I am a regular guy and today enjoy Star Wars as much as the next guy but I do not consider myself a Star Wars Geek. Yet I am inspired by the virtues that mark a Jedi and I emulate them in my life.
I grew up with Star Wars from the age of ten when “The New Hope” hit cinemas exactly 40 years ago today on May 24, 1977. Like many other children growing up in that time I saw the epic as more than a movie, it was something more powerful. Luke Skywalker was a kid who like me seemed to have been given a rough hand in life but yet had managed to overcome that and find within himself an incredible power to change not just his own destiny but the fate of an entire galaxy! Living in State and Foster Care at that time and coming from a broken home rife with abuse and alcoholism, Star Wars gave me a sense of hope and a place to escape. The Jedi also captured the imagination of an entire generation and continues to inspire a growing global community of fans and real world Jedi.
While much of Jedi Philosophy is inspired by the fictional Jedi I still live in the real world and deal with real world problems. I apply many of the virtues and traits that a fictional Jedi demonstrate to help me achieve my goals and overcome problems, but that is not the whole story. From this point I want to stress that I use the word Jedi as a verb, not a noun, therefore the goal is to be Jedi and to act as if not to necessarily become a Jedi Knight or to follow the Jedi Religion known as Jediism unless that happens to be your personal goal.
Jedi Philosophy is a practical way of life in which we apply effort and aim to improve every day through daily practices and study. I train myself mentally, physically and emotionally and through study; I practice meditation everyday in addition to applying mindfulness to everyday actions. Although not a prerequisite I train in a martial arts and foreign languages and treat everyday as an opportunity to learn new things.
Five years ago I was staring into a chasm, a void of my own making through years of alcohol abuse, dishonesty, resentment, selfishness and fear. I had hit rock bottom and knew that before me was death or insanity or both. At that moment I realized that I did have a choice, inside of me resided a Force, a light that had been all but extinguished. I chose to surrender to that Force and to admit and accept my addiction and then to turn it over and let it go.
I knew at that moment my problem with alcohol was gone, I was pulled back into the light by some unseen power. A peace and serenity I had never known before fell on me. I embarked on a life journey of self-discovery and growth laying all of my short comings and failings bare, I resolved to overcome them. Putting the past behind me, I chose to forgive myself and others and to let go of the past and to make amends where I had caused harm to others. I knew that humility and rigorous honesty were virtues to be embraced. In time as I progressed in my recovery, I felt my anger, resentment, fear, anxiety and selfishness fall away.
There were days when I faltered and nearly relapsed. At two years my recovery hit a rut which I could not seem to get past. I rediscovered Jedi Philosophy. Jedi Philosophy breathed life into my recovery program and it has become my personal philosophy for life, through it I aim for progress, not perfection in all aspects of my life and choose to be a better version of myself every day.
The purpose of this Blog is to tell a story but also to share how I choose to be Jedi and how doing so has helped me achieve recovery from alcoholism and depression, rebuild my relationships, improve my self-esteem, advance my career, become a better husband, parent, friend and boss, achieve the highest level of physical fitness of my life and cultivate a true personal spiritual foundation that far transcends any religious training of my upbringing.
This is not a Star Wars fan web site or even a voice for the online Jedi community, this is simply a blog by someone who has adopted Jedi Philosophy as a way of life, in all aspects of his life and wishes to share that journey and what I have learned along the way. I hope that my story may help anyone, especially those that are seeking their own path or struggling with a childhood trauma and abuse, depression and substance abuse as I have. I invite you to consider a Philosophy for Life and to explore the merits of Jedi Philosophy as it applies to your life.
- Ellis, Albert (2001). Overcoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and Behaviors: New Directions for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Prometheus Books.