Don't substitute words for actions

Do you know that sort of person who is constantly pouring out advice, telling you all the time what should or shouldn't be done, and why? (You may suspect I'm of that sort, too - and presumably you're not that far off the mark. But at least I can say in my defense that I work quite hard on actually living by my views and put them to the test first, before I start recommending.)

It's far more easy to reflect and have some insights about how one should live than actually putting them into action. However easy or difficult it may be, though: it's what we're doing the reflection for. Remember why you started it: to live a good life means doing the right thing, as often as possible. And knowing what's the right thing (and knowing how often it is really possible to do it) is something to be supported and trained by philosophical reflection.

But just having those insights is not enough. They must be verified, and cemented by constant efforts, daily thought and action (which is actually more and harder work than just getting to the insights and agreeing to them). How can you be sure, each and every day, that you are still in tune with what you saw when you were reflecting? How can you satisfy yourself that you are actually following the guidance and principles of reason - unless you practice constant, close examination of all your views and actions?

And note that what you examine shouldn't be the things you're telling other people. That will only make you one of those talkers I mentioned. You have to monitor your actions, question your views, examine your feelings. Find out how you are, in fact, leading your life, and whether it matches what you'd tell others. Take care.
Copyright © 2007-2012 by Leif Frenzel. All rights reserved.