Secrets of the Soul:
Your Guide to Uncovering Your Hidden Beliefs
Self-knowledge is the
beginning of self-improvement.
Do you really know what you believe and why you believe it? Are your beliefs and opinions formed by you during time spent in quiet reflection, or do your beliefs originate from the minds of others? Where do your beliefs come from? Do you ever take the time to just sit quietly and think about certain subjects and ideas, or is the only time that these thoughts cross your mind when you are listening to others debate the issues? These are all questions which must be addressed on your journey to self-awareness.
What are your beliefs? This is a simple question, but it is not that easy to answer. The term beliefs is defined as the acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty. A belief is a statement, principle, or doctrine that a person accepts as true. This being said, everyone should know what his or her own beliefs are, after all, your beliefs are your beliefs, right? Well, yes and no. In today’s society, we are bombarded from every side with media and other people trying to influence your thoughts with their beliefs.
You have to spend time in deep thought and meditation in order to ensure that what you believe is in fact, what you believe, and not someone else’s beliefs which you have simply accepted as your own. Too many people just accept the opinions of the media and of those around them for their own beliefs instead of taking the time to ponder specific issues, philosophies, and ideas for themselves. You should never allow others to think for you; think for yourself. Socrates stated it concisely when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
If you do not take the time to contemplate your own personal thoughts concerning specific subjects, how can you have any real conviction of the truth of your beliefs? Without considering the evidence, or lack of evidence, for yourself, how can you know that your beliefs are based on truth and rational thought, instead of myth or misinformation? In order to have a firm conviction in your beliefs, you have to spend time in quiet reflection, discerning the evidence and rationality behind your beliefs. You must know why you believe what you believe.
Our society has become one that craves constant media stimulation. The majority of people today are unsatisfied sitting quietly with their thoughts. Instead, they are constantly seeking to entertain their minds with some sort of outside stimuli, and there is always an abundance of outside stimuli eagerly waiting to occupy their minds. Television, movies, radios, computers, books, newspapers, friends, colleagues, and family, the list could go on and on, and all of these things compete for people’s attention during their waking hours. Some people are even providing their minds with stimulation as they sleep, with stimuli such as subliminal CD’s.
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, they do seem to keep most people too busy to take time out for personal reflection. We all need time to be quiet, reflect, and meditate on who we truly are and what we really believe. Quiet time is essential to this process, and it is getting more and more difficult to slow down and find time for yourself in our fast paced society. It takes discipline and determination to resist the barrage of external influences which vie for your time.
The lack of time spent in quiet meditation and reflection has led to many people not really understanding who they are or what they really believe and why. If you were to ask someone what his or her philosophy of life is, there is a very good chance that you would not get a clear, concise, thought out answer. In fact, you would probably receive and answer similar to, “I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it.” Most people simply haven’t taken the time to think about it. This doesn’t just apply to their philosophy of life, but it applies to most of their beliefs. Oh, they will often have strong opinions on different subjects, but when asked why they believe as they do, they will not have a rational reason, they “just do.”
Developing a personal belief should involve forming an educated opinion which is based on evidence and rational thought, not on the politically correct rhetoric of the day. This is what makes you a unique individual. Your personal beliefs determine your individuality. Individuality distinguishes one person from another. If you do not take the time required to form your own opinions, you are not really acting as an individual, but rather just one of the mass of people who has allowed others to mold their thoughts to the agendas of others. By doing this, you have surrendered your individuality.
Developing your personal beliefs, your personal philosophy if you will, is vital in becoming a strong individual. Without developing your own personal beliefs, are you really living and thinking as an individual, or are you going through life mindlessly, your beliefs being influenced, if not controlled, by others? An awareness of your own individuality is called self-awareness. Developing your self-awareness is the goal of this book and will require you to develop your own beliefs, beliefs that come from time spent with your own thoughts.
Quiet contemplation is required to form specific beliefs that you know to be true, based on the evidence that you have personally examined and that you have thought about profoundly. Therefore, taking time for yourself is essential to understanding your beliefs, thus forming an awareness of your own individuality, leading to a true understanding of who you truly are and what you truly believe. This is true self-awareness, and helping you get to this point is the goal of this book.
Secrets of the Soul presents a series of questions that offer you the opportunity to develop a greater sense of self-awareness. It is not meant to be read quickly, but rather to be used as a guide. There are 101 thought-provoking questions which provide you with the foundation to start developing your core beliefs. Each of these questions is followed by a series of follow up queries to help you determine your true beliefs. Spend time pondering each question and form your own personal beliefs concerning the subjects which are presented.
Some of the questions will require more time and consideration than others, but every question will lead you closer to complete self-awareness and an overall understanding of who you are and what you really believe. More importantly, you will begin to understand why you believe what you believe.
You may find some of the questions intriguing, and others you may find embarrassing, but it is essential that you answer each question honestly. This is for your own self-awareness, and it will do you no good if you aren’t honest with yourself during this process. If you aren’t proud of some of the answers, you now have the opportunity to make some changes in your life, but remember to be honest.
The questions are grouped into specific categories, but it is not essential that you follow any certain order when contemplating your thoughts. You can meditate on the questions in any order that you see fit. You may also find that you enjoy discussing some of the questions with your family and friends, but I highly recommend that you develop your own personal beliefs before discussing a subject with others. This ensures that your beliefs are your beliefs, and not someone else’s beliefs. Your goal is to develop a thorough understanding of your individuality, not someone else’s. There is always a possibility of changing your beliefs after hearing someone else’s point of view or discovering different facts, but it is important that you think for yourself.
I have also included quotes with each of the questions. These quotes are not meant to influence your beliefs, but rather to give you more to think about. Also, the quotes are not meant to reflect my beliefs, but are simply words of wisdom which I found interesting and applicable to the subject. I have not included my opinions or beliefs along with the questions; I merely expand each question to give you, the reader, additional things to think about while forming your beliefs. This is about your self-awareness, no one else’s. In the end, it is up to you. What do you believe?
I hope you thoroughly enjoy your journey to self-awareness and truly discover what you believe and why you believe it. Here’s to self-awareness!