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Day 6: Where, Who, What, and Why

“A person who doesn’t know what the universe is, doesn’t know where they are. A person who doesn’t know their purpose in life doesn’t know who they are or what the universe is. A person who doesn’t know any one of these things doesn’t know why they are here. So what to make of people who seek or avoid the praise of those who have no knowledge of where or who they
are?”

MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 8.52

Do you feel funny when someone asks you “Who are you?”, I sure do. Because I don’t know what to tell them besides my name. Should I tell them where I work, or where I am from, or what do I like and what kind of person I am? And then I think about whether they are really interested to know about all these things. So, I just tell them my name. But it always left me uneasy because deep down I know that my name does not fully represent me.

Now I am not saying that you should actually overwhelm the person with all the details. The point I am trying to make here is that we treat these questions as superficial questions and hence answer we know are also superficial. Now take a step back and ask these questions from yourself and this time don’t be superficial in sharing the details.

Why is it important to ask these questions? It helps you clarify your intentions and gives you a direction in your life. It will help you identify your values and principles which form the guiding force in your life. It will force you to look deeper and reflect on your life. Now it’s important to repeat this activity once in a while because as much as it is important to keep moving it is also important to know that you are moving in the right direction. So, let’s pause for a while and ask these question from ourselves:

  • Who are you?
  • Where are you going?
  • What do you stand for?
  • Why are you doing what you are doing?

Have you taken the time to get clarity about who you are and what you stand for? Or are you too busy chasing unimportant things, mimicking the wrong influences, and following disappointing or unfulfilling or nonexistent paths?

Ryan Holiday
Published inPhilosophy & IdeasStoicism

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