Socratic Living embraces the method of self-inquiry introduced by Socrates, the wisest man in Ancient Greece. Socrates approached life with curiosity and wonder. He accepted himself and questioned everything around him. Rather than assuming he knew anything, he approached everything and everyone with an openness that invites wisdom and understanding.

Socratic Living suspends judgment and knee-jerk reactions so that we may respond with awareness. Our minds are conditioned to fill in the blanks in a way that fits with our own feelings, perceptions and life experience. We don’t even realize we’re doing it. We interpret actions and assign motives to people instantaneously and mistake our mind’s story as fact. We believe that we can and do know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

As an attorney, I’ve called hundreds of witnesses to the stand, and each one had to promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Not one of them did. No one can. I always had to call multiple witnesses so that each could testify to his or her own part of the truth. Then it was up to the fact finder—jury or judge—to synthesize the testimony and decide what happened based on the totality of the evidence applied to the issues at hand. Sometimes they got it right. Sometimes they got it all wrong. But my perspective as to whether they got it right or wrong comes from my own judgment.

Judgment is not truth. Wisdom is as close as we can come to truth. The Greek word for wisdom is sophia. Socrates’ student Plato defined wisdom as non-hypothetical knowledge, knowledge of what always exists, and knowledge which contemplates being. Socratic Living contemplates being. More than logic or rationalization, Socratic Living embraces the inner wisdom within each of us and encourages people to think for themselves. There is nothing more useless than a mind filled with someone else’s thoughts.

Socratic Living empowers you to make your own rules. Here are three rules that I’ve made for myself:

Rule # 1: Have fun! (And fun means fun for everyone). Life is too short to take yourself too seriously. Whether you’re working or playing, celebrating or grieving, find the joy of the moment. The greatest gift of all is life itself, and laughter really is the best medicine.

Rule #2: Use your head, but follow your heart. There will always be many voices around you and even in your own mind telling you what you should and should not do. Acknowledge and consider these, but learn to listen to the still, small voice within you. Think for yourself. There is nothing more useless than a mind filled with someone else’s thoughts. Be guided by your true desires and passions, not all of the temporal prizes in the world around you. If your goals lie outside you, you will be tossed to and fro like a ship adrift in a turbulent ocean. When your motivation comes from within, you’ll move swiftly in a positive direction like a sailboat in a strong wind.

Rule #3: Dare to love yourself. You are beautiful. You are the only one capable of being you. No matter what anyone tries to tell you or sell you, know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being exactly who you are right now at this very moment. The first step to moving forward is always accepting where you really are. Hiding behind every perceived weakness is a genuine strength. We’ve all been taught some form of the Golden Rule to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The key to loving anyone else is to love yourself. There are only two ways to motivate yourself and deal with others: fear and love. Always choose love.

Socratic Living gives you the courage to take healthy risks. You will fall short many, many times, but each perceived failure will be a giant step forward on your journey to success. Dream BIG and you will succeed in life. If anyone can do it, you can!

Beware of people who say they know exactly what you should do in any given situation. Better yet, BE AWARE. Only you can determine what is best and what is right for you. That is the essence of Socratic Living.

Author's Bio: 

Laurie Gray earned her B.A. from Goshen College in 1986 and her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law in 1993. A former high school teacher, experienced trial attorney and child advocate, Laurie currently works as an author, public speaker and consultant through her company Socratic Parenting, LLC. Laurie’s debut novel Summer Sanctuary (Luminis Books/2010) won a Moonbeam Gold Medal for excellence in young adult literature. For more information on Laurie’s writing projects, please visit www.SocraticParenting.com.