Happiness is something that determines the worth of one’s life, so it is extremely important to focus on. Philosophy is a highly individual practice which describes first our relationship with ourselves, and then our relationship with and impact on the rest of the world. It also depicts how we adapt to change to ensure we remain happy. I believe that self-love and an awareness of what we as humans deserve are the first steps in creating a healthy relationship with ourselves, especially in times when life changes unexpectedly. The celebrated feminist poet Rupi Kaur shares this in an untitled poem from her book Milk and Honey:
“accept that you deserve more
than painful love
life is moving
the healthiest thing
for your heart is
to move with it”
Kaur’s poem exemplifies the importance of knowing one’s worth and accepting change as a natural, unavoidable thing that happens in life. While my take on philosophy does not match precisely with those of the philosophers discussed in class, there are similarities to some; firstly, Mill’s Greatest Happiness Principle states that any action is correct if it promotes happiness. Mill understands the value of happiness for living a fulfilled life, and in my interpretation I believe that finding happiness and practicing the actions that cause one to be happy are necessary for self-love and a healthy relationship with oneself and the world.
Dr. Martha Nussbaum is also a key influencer in my interpretation of philosophy due to her concept of human capabilities and rights. Nussbaum’s stance is that human beings all have certain rights that are guaranteed by virtue of being human. Bodily integrity, emotion and respect are only three of the central capabilities deserved by humans, and, as Kaur states in her poem, it is necessary to recognize this if one is to move away from and avoid toxic relationships or situations that make life less than savoury. Knowing one’s worth is essential to loving oneself and in the relationships one forms with others. Without this awareness, people could control others so easily and those being manipulated would not understand that this action of taking advantage is wrong.
Lastly, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s resistance to accept oppression mirrors the point of my philosophy. Dr. King understood that change would not occur if people did not fight for what they believed in, and criticized those who remained passive. Those who remained content with inaction were resisting change, in turn resisting a natural progression of life. Kaur says that the best thing for one’s emotional health is to allow life to move and to move with it; in terms of individual and global growth, I believe that this is essential.
My take on philosophy is simplistic and extremely personal, because I believe that the terms of philosophy—that is, the moral rules and standards we hold as a society—begin with the individual. We must change as individuals before we can change the world and the views and tolerances of its inhabitants. Love is emphasized as something worth spreading to remove animosity and hatred from the world, and that must first begin with the one. Loving oneself improves relationships with others and the impact on the world that the one has, and with that comes the acceptance of change and embracing of the positivity it brings. Beginning with self-love, philosophy becomes a force of nature that provides everyone with morals of promoting happiness, accepting self-worth, and embracing change.
In my life, I have learned to love myself at every stage. I used to be extremely resistant to change, but I no longer am because the resistance has brought me far less than what my acceptance of it has. My relationship with myself is healthy and has helped me become kinder to others. I practice philosophical actions by being a good example of someone who is happy and accepting of life; for example, I volunteer very often to spread my beliefs in happiness and kindness. When I do small things that do not demand too much of me, it inspires others to reflect on their relationship with themselves and the world around them. I take care of myself and make sure others notice so that they can decide to do the same for themselves. In this way I practice my personal philosophy and leave a positive impact on the ever-changing world.
Kaur, Rupi. Milk and Honey. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 2016. Print.