Wow, it has been awhile since I’ve posted. I have had a whirlwind of a semester, and it left me with very little time to sit and think and reflect (or so I thought). BUT, I realized that there is ALWAYS time to reflect and be grateful, and it is a necessary element for the mental health of all humans (or at least this human… :)) Needless to say, I am so glad to be back!
There was one lesson that I learned in my philosophy class this semester that I have attempted to apply over the past couple of months, and I definitely think it is worth sharing. We were talking about Socrates (of course), but instead of discussing his typical philosophical views, we spent a lot of time going in depth about the type of man that he was. We first compared him to the Sophists, which were a group of pompous intellectuals that focused on winning an argument based completely on one’s persuasive prowess. There was zero regard for discovering an absolute truth or admitting one was wrong; their efforts were focused on winning a verbal exchange, even if they knew their stance was the weaker one of the two. Socrates, however, was focused on discovering a truth based on questioning. If he held a particular opinion on a certain topic, he never assumed he was right; he always begged someone to prove him wrong, to enlighten him, if it meant it would improve him as an individual. He thus was not attached at all to any specific stance, because he was humble enough to let others persuade him otherwise. And this is how he based his entire existence… on humility and modesty for his own thoughts, and on gratitude for others shining light on the truth.
Learning about this naturally made me reconsider my personal mindset… do I walk around like a pompous intellectual, completely convinced that the way I live my life and moniter my thoughts is the correct way? Or do I walk around with an open mind, picking up qualities of others that I admire, listening to their opinions, and continually molding and reconstructing the person I want to become?
After giving this some thought, I realized that in order to be the best musician, therapist, friend, daughter, and overall person that I want to be, I would have to embrace a Socratic state of mind. As humans, we learn and grow the most when we collect valuable advice from others and use it to our advantage. (However, there is a very big difference between being humble enough to listen and absorb the wisdom of others, and being a push-over by not holding your own opinions in the first place! 😉 Finding that balance is a careful craft that takes some work!)
I realized that I would grow the most as a musician if I walked into my private instructor’s office week after week with no attachment to what I perceived to be the correct way to play jazz, or the most efficient way to practice classical music. I would allow myself to improve so much more if I didn’t shut out anything that they told me without working hard to apply it first.
I realized that I will continually improve as a therapist if I recognize that there are an endless amount of interventions that I can utilize for the unique growth of my patients, and I am going to have to succumb to a lifelong amount of research to uncover the best techniques.
I realized that I could only be the best of friends if I kept an eye out for the kind things that I watched others do for their friends, or asked my friends about their preferences in regard to the way they want to be treated.
I realized that I can only learn and grow as a human being walking on my path of life if I keep an imaginary little basket in my mind; where I collect the tidbits of wisdom I hear, the little acts of kindness that I witness, and the advice for improvement that I receive, the same way I would pick flowers on a path anywhere else.
I have grown to love this way of thinking because it is so applicable to literally anything in your life; a class you are struggling with, a new hobby you are trying to pick up, a relationship you are having trouble with, or a career you are stuck in a rut in. Let’s recognize how far we have come, but never be satisfied with the person we currently are; there is ALWAYS room for personal development.
Lastly, I firmly believe it would benefit this planet greatly if the individuals composing it embraced this mindset. Our world needs humility and compassion more than anything else right now; it needs the humility to keep an open mind and heart to the opinions and cultures of others (and not believe that yours are the only ones that exist!) and the compassion to accept them wholeheartedly regardless of the differences.
What would happen if we all accepted a Socratic mindset? An eagerness to acquire more knowledge, to be proven wrong, and to gain insight about the lives and virtues of others. Maybe it’s about time to neglect the false sophistication and dogmatic ideals that have invaded our minds for too long; maybe it’s time to stand for a more modest cause.
For there is only strength in humility, not submission. After all, our greatest strength is not what we can currently do, but what we are willing to learn to do (because that is an endless amount :))
We are only as powerful as our willingness to improve.
Food for thought! I love you all! Keep learning from your mistakes and growing into the person you want to be!
*If you would like to contribute to my educational fund, you can read my story and donate at https://www.gofundme.com/hannahlentztuitionfund. Anything is appreciated!