A Month of Philosophy: Seeking out the Good Life


“Change, Thoreau reminds us, begins when we finally choose to critically examine and then recalibrate the ill-serving codes and conventions handed down to us, often unquestioned, by the past and its power structures. It is essentially an act of the imagination first.” ~Maria Popova, brain pickings

Bronze sculpture "Denkpartner" by Hans-Jörg Limbach, 1980, in front of the Friedrichsbau Varieté in Stuttgart, Germany

Bronze sculpture "Denkpartner" by Hans-Jörg Limbach, 1980, in front of the Friedrichsbau Varieté in Stuttgart, Germany

This experiment will continue in the vein of the first two as a re-embracing of former passions.  I consider myself a philosopher and a lover of wisdom. Last year I submitted an almost-one-hundred-page master’s thesis on philosophy, and very much burned myself out in the process. Far from what some of my peers wanted to do - diving straight into a PhD - I knew I needed a break. And now one year later, I find myself finally dusting off some of these big old books.

This month will be about reading and writing again. At some point I want to condense my thesis into something geared toward a general audience, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’d like for this month to simply consist of an effort toward getting back into shape. Much like with yoga, music, or any other practice, philosophical contemplation takes an incredible amount of concentration and focus. And when I come home from work - having stared into a computer all day - my mind wants to skip, hop, and meander rather than staying on yet another task. But this specific task is one of my loves. And I know that only with a bit of discipline can I explore becoming through becoming.

Last month’s experiment, I realize now, was not necessarily bound by SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

With that in mind, my goal for this month will be very smart: I intend to read and write about a philosophical idea or work, for at least an hour, 3 days/week.  In my experience it takes at least an hour to melt into contemplation. The process is especially slow because I often have to read passages over and over again in order to begin to glean their depth. I do not yet know what role philosophy will play in my life, but through this work I have come to understand some of the fundamental principles and values by which I live. And I’m so excited to share some of these bits of wisdom with you all throughout the month!


A Month of Yoga


“Motivation waxes and wanes but discipline will carry you through those hard times”

~ Todd Cline

As I thought about what it would mean to give myself over to a year long experiment, I thought about something I read once about the benefits of “SMART goals:” Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. I chose A Month of Yoga as my first experiment because I want to start the year off cultivating discipline. If my larger goal is to seize 2019 and live more intentionally, I feel like I should start with the basics.

I have been practicing yoga for 12 years. It hasn’t been all beach yoga and handstands.  More often than not, I am the type of yogi who can be found weeping softly in half pigeon. Some of those years I barely looked at my mat while other years it was the one thing that could reliably bring me peace throughout the day. My practice has been patchy at times, but I keep coming back to the mat. I’ve found it is a practice that really works for me.

This past summer, after years of thinking about it, I finally did a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification. My nebulous goals for the course were to deepen my practice, master proper alignment, explore anatomy, delve into yoga philosophy, learn smart sequencing, lead confidently, and develop this as a hard skill I might be able to use as a side-hustle. I was all gung-ho about teaching privately and creating workshops when I landed a full-time job and my priorities began to shift. It was easier for me to prioritize my practice when I had the flexibility to go to class whenever I felt like it. My preference for mid-morning yoga didn’t exactly jive with my new 9-5 work schedule, and I fell off the wagon. So, my first challenge will revolve around sticking to my personal routines and prioritizing that which brings me peace.  If a happy and fulfilling life is the goal, I must routinely do that which makes me happy and feel fulfilled.

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.


Specific: Practice a whole lot of yoga

Measurable: I will keep a log of my practice

Achievable: At least 15 minutes a day. Not a huge time commitment, more is better, but focus on consistently achieving the goal.

Relevant: Having a daily yoga practice helps me to cultivate discipline, mindfulness, and intention. This will set the groundwork for the rest of my experiments.

Time-bound: 15 minutes per day for 31 days. How hard could it be?

Wish me luck!