Monday, January 21, 2013

The Best Class Ever....

Time for a little educational post. After all, I am in Barcelona for the education. Right?

Let's talk about my class from 2:30 to 6:00pm each Monday. The title: "In Search of Principles for a Life Philosophy" So far, I think it is perhaps the best class I have ever taken.  To review, the format is like this:
First 1/4 - discussion of business topic and student presentation
Second 1/4 - discussion of the reading
30 minutes - coffee
Third 1/4 - listen to music and discuss art and literature
Fourth 1/4 - discuss a new life philosophy principle. 

Each class we have an assigned reading which we comment on through an open class forum.  The only other assignments are a student presentation (of which I really finished - I presented the "Slow Foods Movement" as a demonstration of a counterculture) and a 5-page letter we write to ourselves.  The professors will then mail it to us in five years. In the letter, we are to reflect on the philosophies and on our lives, thinking about how we want to live.  Shouldn't everyone be doing something like this?!

Today, we honestly spent five minutes with closed eyes listening to Gustav Mahler. And earlier we each had parts and read aloud from Tolstoy's "In the Light Shines Darkness." And we argued if this Pollack painting was complex or complicated.
And we learned how the Economic Complexity Index might be a better measure of a nation's worth than GDP.  Then we asked, "What is economic complexity for one's self?"

Anyway, so far we have three life philosophies. I am including them below along with my thoughts.

1. Embrace optimism and beware of self deception.  Face the facts and put praise in perspective. Learn to read (decode) life's messages and warning signals. 
I love the idea of embracing optimism, and I certainly have tried to adapt this attitude in my life. I also aim to fill my life with those who share these attitudes. (You don't have to look much further than Joe for this.) I have certainly fallen victim to self-deception, finding facts that justify my beliefs. I will strive harder to view ideas from other people's perspectives. Also, praise is so commonplace in America. It rolls off people's mouths so easily, but while it may come with good intentions, it may not be true.  When in doubt, dig deep and listen to your gut. 

2. Overcome the excessive influence of others. Nurture the habit of listening to your inner voice. Slowing down, solitude and silence - consider these your allies.
Chris played this song for me a few years ago, and it forever stuck.  If only he realized how often it comes to my mind, and how it is has changed my perspective on things like FOMO and an aim for perfection.  When I used to fear being alone, I now crave it. I may not always slow down, but I do aim to enjoy my experiences while I am present.  I need to work on making my own decisions without influence, but that will be a lifelong process.  In the end, I know what is best for me and I've landed on my feet so far.

3. Discover, accept and manage the multiplicity within yourself.  Diversify your sources of well-being. Dance!
Oh this is a hard one! How I want to be great at so many things. But as the song above mentions, there are only so many hours in the day.  I am doing the best I can to experience everything I can.  While I may not be specialized at any one thing, I do in fact have many interests and elements about my life, and they all serve to make me a better, more interesting person.  No need to beat myself up here for not being great at any one thing. If one thing doesn't work, I can quickly move to another and get along just fine.

I hope you can see why I love this class. I'd love your feedback about these principles too! I promise to keep sharing....

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