"The discovery of what is true, and the 
practice of what is good are the two most
important objects of philosophy."
Voltaire

"Philosophy is the art of living."
Plutarch

"All truly wise thoughts have been thought
already thousands of times; but to make them
truly ours, we must think them over again
honestly, till they take root in our
personal experience."
Goethe


INTRODUCTION

I chose the subtitle title of this book, "Expanding
your perspective to create greater fulfillment,"
because I've found that most of us have underlying
misconceptions which interfere with developing a
mental outlook that promotes successful living. This
personal perspective, the way we view life, directs
the way we respond to the problems and wonders that
are inherent to our world--which correlates directly
to how much fulfillment we experience. The
misconceptions that underlie our perspectives are
comparable to the erroneous idea that sailing a boat
is mostly an easygoing form of relaxation without much
need to learn from the problems that occur as we sail
or to work at putting such new knowledge into effect.
Just as this erroneous idea is likely to cause people
to eventually give up sailing, misconceptions about
life also set people up for failure. The more we
overcome our misconceptions, the more we will expand
our perspective and enhance our approach to life.
Another analogy is an old one in comparing living
to a ship at sea, I take this analogy much further.
Imagine that living is like sailing a ship on an
ocean voyage, and:
A. The wind = the power you have in your life, just
waiting to be used;
B. The raising and trimming of the sails = how you try
to make use of this power, and because it often
fluctuates, you repeatedly need to adjust how you use
this power;
C. The anchor = your ingrained habits and patterns which
give you stability, but which can also inhibit you from
making progress if you become stuck in them;
D. The rudder = your immediate goals, which give you
direction so you don't wander uncontrolled through life.
Moving away from the actual parts of the ship:
E. The charts and bearings = your beliefs and perceptions
which largely determine how you lead your life--if
either your beliefs or perceptions are faulty, your
journey will accordingly be less likely to succeed;
F. The port = your overall purpose, which determines
not only what your more immediate goals are, but also
gives your life its greatest meaning;
G. And your crew = the people in your life who help you
live and learn, and you need to pick them with care,
for your life actually depends on it.
Then on this voyage you need to deal with the
other inevitable variables: the doldrums--the periods
of persistent inactivity that make you feel stagnant;
the stormy episodes when chaos and rage seem to
threaten your very existence; the ongoing ebb and
flow of the tides of opportunity which requires some
anticipation; the times when you seem to be in a fog
and can't understand what is happening or where you
are. Sometimes you have to quickly change your course
to avoid damage from others who are either unaware of
your presence or simply don't care.

The various ingredients needed for a sailing
voyage must be reliable and compatible to help insure
a successful voyage. The more sound and harmonious
they are, the more effectively we can deal with the
unexpected changes that will occur. This correlates
with living; to create a truly successful and
fulfilling journey the many complex aspects need to
be based on reality--that which exists relatively
objectively and based on fact, and they need to
reinforce each other to consciously create harmony.
Unfortunately people often act on very subjective and
unsound beliefs which are more like wishes and
fantasies that ultimately interfere with their efforts
to improve their lives.

When we are born we don't get an instruction
manual on how to apply the fundamental principles
of optimal living. Some might say that the Bible is
sufficient, but the history of human experience seems
to indicate that more help could be used. Yet even
when presented with good instructions for living, we
often don't use them until later in life when we've
become sufficiently fed up with our troubles or lack
of fulfillment. At that point we may decide to change
our approach to life and learn to apply those basic
principles.
In my practice of nursing over the years I have
found this phenomena to be quite evident. However, my
primary interest goes further than patient's in a
medical setting. As I examined the psychological and
spiritual problems of people throughout society, I
found the lack of understanding about how they
contribute to their own situations to be a major
barrier to successfully improving their lives.
But my most amazing discovery occurred when I
found that this lack of insight applied to myself as
well. I had thought I was beyond this fault because I
was so knowledgeable. Actually, my lack of insight
into my own life happened largely because I thought I
was so smart, and therefore right, about so much.
Such self-righteous conceit caused me to unconsciously
close my mind, and thus not be able to see my
underlying problems.
What I have learned about the self-generated
problems of people--including my own--convinced me
that there is still a need for a book that covers
some of the basic wisdom that has developed over the
ages about living effectively. Furthermore, this
knowledge can have a powerful synergistic affect on a
person's inner growth when combined with the
objective observations of a knowledgeable and caring
person, whether this is a friend, spouse, or counselor.

In 1968 I began studying religions and philosophies
of the Far East and Mediterranean, as well as the
major schools of contemporary psychology and
philosophy. Much of what I have learned from these
sources is often presented in different ways and from
different viewpoints, but I find the same basic,
enduring principles weaving their way through all the
major approaches to living optimally. And we can use
these enduring principles to form the basis for
creating our personal instruction manual for achieving
fulfillment.
Vince Lombardi, the famous Green Bay Packers
coach, once said "The key to winning is just knowing
the fundamentals and then practicing them every day."
In this book is what I believe to be those
fundamentals which, by understanding and practicing,
will enable people to achieve greater love and
happiness. But practicing these fundamentals is also
a lifelong process of searching and discovering, of
trial and error. If I'm feeling emotional pain, I can
usually find some fundamental principle that I
haven't learned to apply well enough. Then I need to
go back and learn to incorporate that principle into
my living.
A Yoga instructor once said of his teachings,
"Take what you can use, and leave the rest."
Similarly, if you don't agree with all I present
here, I hope that you'll still take and use what you
can and become encouraged to discover your own unique
path.
More than 2,000 years ago, Socrates believed
that the foremost method of learning was through
questioning, and that the most important questions
were about oneself. Today, answering questions about
ourselves is still vitally important to gaining
self-knowledge and opening the doors to our personal
power. There are many ideas in this book you can use
in asking yourself personal questions, and at the end
of each chapter I've tried to distill them into what I
think are the most beneficial questions. With time the
answers will sometimes change, but then the value in
answering them will also multiply.
Learning about ourselves can also be enhanced
through the assistance of a wise and compassionate
friend, spiritual teacher, or counselor. Regardless
of how hard we try to see ourselves, this person will
still be able to see aspects of us that we are blind
to. Taking advantage of such assistance is a healthy
and more direct route to self-improvement. It's an
uncommon person, however, who can be objective and
honest enough to ask the questions necessary for
advancing our self-understanding, and at the same
time restrain his or her self from simply giving us
advice or being overly helpful.
Instead of aiming at numerous specific exercises
to use, this book is geared more to altering one's
overall perspective and approach towards life.
Although inner growth exercises can be very helpful
in changing how we respond to our environment, I
believe few people actually use such exercises
found in many self-help books. Yet by overcoming
our misconceptions and improving our perspective, we
can create a more fulfilling life. As the Greek
philosopher, Epictetus, stated in a fundamental
principle, "Man is disturbed not so much by things,
but by the view he takes of them."
Rather than advocating a dogmatic morality or
orientation towards God and religion, the information
compiled here is a collection of enduring and
effective wisdom that we can use to create a life
filled with more love and happiness. You likely may
define God differently than me and have a different
religion. But just as how people define God doesn't
change the way that the laws of physics operate in
their lives, how you define God doesn't change the
way fundamental principles of living still work in
your life. Likewise, belief in a particular religion
doesn't alter how the laws of physics work or how
life's fundamental principles apply to your life.
If people's lives are not fulfilling and
predominantly happy, it's not necessarily because
they are immoral, or because they do or do not
believe in a certain kind of God or religion. It's
because they fail to understand and use fundamental,
universal principles, and then they suffer the
consequences. As we need to correctly perceive and
use the components and variables of an ocean voyage
to increase its probability of success, so do we need
to understand and apply certain basic principles in
living.
Some readers because of their religious
beliefs may not agree with the above statement
concerning God and religion. Nevertheless, I hope
they will still remain open-minded enough to continue
reading and perhaps gain an enhanced perspective in
relation to these principles, which I feel underlie
all the great religions.
This book is intended to be an introduction to
these principles, and I hope you will continue to
investigate them. After most chapters are suggestions
for further reading, and while these books can be
very helpful, I don't necessarily agree with
everything they contain. In addition, other books
might meet your needs better, so I encourage you to
search for what suits you best.
Books about self-improvement (even this one) can
also be detrimental: they sometimes lead people to
explain or account for their problems by
intellectualizing, instead of actually making
constructive changes. Furthermore, this cerebral
approach can lead to the deceptive feeling of making
significant advances, when in reality little
constructive personal change has taken place. The
real test of whether a book is truly helping someone
is if it influences them to alter their lives in a
positive direction--if their lives remain relatively
unchanged, then they probably should seek the
assistance of an objective, knowledgeable person.


"Perhaps the most valuable result of all
education is the ability to make yourself do
the thing you have to do, when it ought to
be done, whether you like it or not."
Thomas Huxley


"If you have knowledge, let others light
their candles at it."
Thomas Fuller




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Copyright 2004 by Keith L. Kendrick
E-mail: awaken@teleport.com
URL:http://www.inner-growth.com
http://home.teleport.com/~awaken/lifebook.htm