One of my favorite philosophical quotes comes from Plato, who said “the unexamined life is not worth living”. This is a fairly straightforward quote to understand, although so many people do not actually take Plato’s words to heart and incorporate them into their own lives. I am going to discuss the importance of Plato’s quote and why it matters as you go through life.
In essence, Plato is basically advocating for people to constantly be examining their own lives. But what does this mean exactly? Well, it means examining your own life for flaws and areas that could use improvement. Most people agree that there are certain values in life that are universally regarded as good, and the golden standard of living. But almost all of us fail to even come close to those standards, which is only natural given that we are only human and sinful beings at heart. However, that shouldn’t stop any of us from trying to constantly improve and strive to become closer and closer to the perfect human.
But to do any of this, it requires examining your own life and seeing just where you can improve yourself. Without this self-examination, you will go nowhere and repeat the same mistakes in life over and over until you are dead. And that is the crux of Plato’s point: The first step to improving oneself is recognizing that there is a need for improvement.
And self-improvement isn’t just for your own benefit either. Self-improvement is important as it leads to better lives for those around you as well. For example, if you become a more forgiving person as a result of your self-examination and self-improvement in that area, your friends and family will be happier around you as a result. Or even something as simple as working harder in the office because you know you have that ability can lead to a promotion that ultimately makes your family better off financially. No matter how you slice it, improving yourself has a ripple effect that benefits not only yourself, but just about everyone that you come into contact with – even completely strangers in certain cases!
What’s just as important in self-examination is your willingness to do so throughout the entire of your life. It is not enough to just constantly examine yourself and improve into your 40’s, at which point you rest on your laurels and live out the rest of your life accordingly. Because of the fact that constantly improving means improving the lives of those around you as well, giving up on improving yourself at any moment in life means you are willing to give up a better life for those around you, including your friends and family. And if you have any conscious, you would know that that is just plain wrong.
Although we all start off at different places in our own individual lives, there is always room for improvement. Examining ourselves at every step of our lives is always the first step at making those improvements necessary to better ourselves and those around us. And it is our own individual responsibility to do preciously that, to create a life that is truly worth living.