Expansion of Knowledge & Experience vol. 1: Philosophy

This is a potentially dangerous part of my experiment. I think more than most of the other areas, except for maybe the expansion of relationships, this one has the most potential to stir up trouble. Expanding our thinking and our experience has a very high impact on our outlook on the world and how we approach life. While this is something I want, it’s also a little scary. I’m sure most of us can point to certain moments where new knowledge or experiences have changed the way we think about things or even changed the course of our lives. I want to be open to this, but I also fear it. Change is never an easy thing and many times certain types of knowledge change how we look at the world enough that we are forced to change; it’s no longer an option.

I think back to when I was a kid and my mom told me that Santa wasn’t real. It’s a moment many of us experience. I had heard rumblings of this and if I had let myself think about it, I would have known it already. But when she told me outright, there was no fooling myself anymore. I can still pretend he exists and enter into the spirit of it (my family still writes letters to Santa on Christmas Eve for the fun and tradition of it) but I could no longer wonder and imagine Santa landing on my rooftop like I could before I had that new knowledge. It was a death to my old way of thinking. Change means death to what once was, but I don’t want to be afraid of death in any form and thus expanding my knowledge and experience must be a part of my year of expansion. Which leads to my first resolution in this area: Read more Philosophy.

I actually started my journey with philosophy last year (or was it the year before). I had been challenged by my husband to start thinking deeper about my world (that’s a story for another day) and I had already become a podcast junkie. So naturally, the first place I looked was for a philosophy podcast that could start me with an introduction. I found Philosophize This and was soon hooked. I blew through the whole archive in a month or two. It has already done a lot to pique my interest and challenge my worldview, but a once per month podcast isn’t satiating my thirst for questions and answers.

I’d like to get to the point of reading actual philosophers’ texts but my first foray into it with Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra was like diving into the deep end without knowing how to swim, or dive for that matter. I got halfway through and was more confused than challenged. I know I’ll go back to it eventually but it made me realize that I need to take some baby steps first.

I took to the internet for some recommendations. Since I liked and trusted Stephen West from his Philosophize This podcast, I took his word and bought a used copy (It’s the way to go for these kinds of books. The previous owner already has notes in there for me!) of Luc Ferry’s A Brief History of Thought. I started it yesterday so I’m only 45 pages in but it’s already engaging and I think it will be a great way to get a further overview of philosophy and philosophers while also giving me ideas of what I’d like to dive into further.

What I’ve accomplished this week:
* Went to the gym – twice
* Did yoga at home – once
* Walked my dog – 5 days
* Practiced piano – 3 times
* Practiced voice – 3 times (I had choir practice twice and a performance but hey, it counts!)
* Wrote in my Journal – once
* Called my younger brother & my sister
* Did strength exercises – twice
* At salad for lunch 3 out of 5 days
* Reading
* At page 93 in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
* At page 45 in  A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry

Things I’m enjoying this week:
* Watching Younger with Sutton Foster on TV Land – Shout-out to my sister-in-law for the recommendation
* Re-listening to the Little Women Broadway soundtrack (clearly I’m on a Sutton kick)

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I have many different aspects of my life I want to touch on with this experiment in going deeper. Rather than focusing on one for these writings, I’d will touch on each one cyclically. However, I will include a log at the end of each post to keep record of how I am doing with each aspect of the experiment. This will allow me to post updates on each but do a deeper dive into each aspect on a weekly basis.

With that, I should introduce each of the resolutions that are part of my experiment. They are as follows (in no particular order):

1. Expansion of Strength
* Go to the gym 3 days a week
* Walk my dog 5 days a week
* Yoga 1 day a week
* Reach 125 lbs? Not 100% needed, more important is…
* Concrete measures of strength – I still need to determine what this will be..
2. Expansion of Knowledge & Experience
* Read more philosophy
* Read more in general (finish 1-2 books per month)
* Practice piano twice a week
* Practice voice on my own at least once per week
3. Expansion of Awareness & Wellbeing
* Eat more consciously – slowly/smaller portions, more fruits & veggies
* Practice meditation – need to start this one 🙂
* Journal regularly (3 days a week)
* Write this once per week
4. Expansion of Relationships
* Become better about keeping in touch with my family – call my parents once a week, call my siblings each once every two weeks
* Work on building/maintaining friendships – not sure yet how to put this in practice
* Be more intentional in my relationship with my husband
** Be thoughtful in how and when we spend time together
** How we converse – approach all conversations with benefit of doubt and a loving demeanor

Man, that looks like a big list but each resolution is important to me and if I keep it to those 3-5 items in each category, I think I can do it. Or at least do better. This experiment will help me hold myself accountable and focus on becoming a better, happier version of myself.

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