Know Thyself, Quarantined Soul!

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Accurate self-awareness is a sign of good psychological well-being.  Most schools of philosophy argue for the need to “know oneself” in order to live a good and flourishing life.  Here are examples from some of the world’s greatest thinkers:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu, famous Chinees war strategist.

“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates, famous Greek Philosopher

Here is one from a book I’m reading now that I just love:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau, American author

“I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.” – Michel de Montaigne, French Essayist

And let’s end with a good old American Hero who understood human nature than most modern psychologists, Benjamin Franklin:

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” – Benjamin Franklin

These last few months of quarantine have helped me spend some time reflecting on who I am and what matters to me.  I thought I would share them with all of you to perhaps spark a little interest in using whatever time remains in our social isolation to do the same.  Here is a little insight into the soul of Dominick Hankle.

  • I like people more than I ever thought I did.  I’m an introvert by nature, but too often people think that means I don’t enjoy being with other people.  I love being with people, but I don’t like shallow surface engagement with them.  I like deep conversations where we get to know one another at a whole different level.  I like that conversational intimacy where you get to know someone better than before you sat down over that glass of wine.  I miss seeing several people who I can have those conversations with and will treasure them more after this is over.
  • I enjoy laughing and drinking wine.  I am indeed a man of Christian persuasion and I am committed to my belief and practice of the Christian faith, but I certainly cannot claim to be a puritan.  There have been a few nights where I have been able to drink a good bottle of wine with limited friends and family and I cherish those moments.  Wine and laughter, as well as the occasional off colored joke do not make me less of a Christian, they make me more human.  I thank God for reminding me I am merely a human being in such a pleasant and unconventionally Christian way.
  • I love my family.  Certainly, this seems obvious, but a man my age often reflects on life and ponders “What might have been.”  I’ve been with the same woman for about 30 years.  We have grown up together, we have loved each other, fought with each other, and at times hated one another, but we’re still together.  Being with her is a constant in my life that I would regret losing if it were to ever happen.  I do indeed love my wife.  I’m also blessed to have all my children still living with me, and that’s good.  Sometimes the five of us are sitting together in one room just laughing and enjoying being a family and that feels good.  Quarantine has reminded me of just how much I love these people.  I’m glad we are a family.
  • I love to learn.  I’ve read many books since our quarantine and it has been a wonderful experience.  I’m learning another language and revisiting statistical analysis so I can still think critically through the myriad of data my studies in psychology throw at me.  I have discovered that my love for learning is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s a blessing because we live in a world where there is always more to learn so I have so much to explore to keep me busy.  It’s a curse, because it reminds me that I don’t necessarily fear death itself, rather I fear that I will die without studying and learning all the things I’m interested in knowing.
  • I have been reminded that life is meant to be lived intentionally.  I’ve spent many days doing a number of things that served little purpose in regard to what I have discovered my life is meant to be.  We need to reestablish our lives so that each moment the tasks we engage in serve two primary purposes.  First, the tasks must be aimed at helping us achieve and actualize our life purposes.  What we do must reflect the very thing God calls us to be.  The second purpose for what we do must be to love and serve other people.  Each time I engage in an activity I ask myself, “Does this help me be the man God created me to be and does it help me love those he has placed in my life more fully?”  With these simple questions, I can instantly evaluate whether I’m using time in a way that matters.  Relaxation itself can be either useful relaxation or a waste of precious time.  There is a difference between idleness and rest, its important we know the difference.  This time reflecting on my life has helped me learn what that difference is.

Anyway, these are just five things that I’ve learned about myself over these days of quarantine.  Make some time to sit down and ask yourself how you can use this time to be more self-aware.  Time and circumstance will come and go regardless of how you feel about it.  Perhaps times like these are meant to help us use our situation to be more than we ever imagined we could be.

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