At Dallington, we encourage all our students to design their own unique philosophy for living.

We say living instead of life because this is a process that will evolve and change as they do. The commitment to the process of building a philosophy is far more important than the finished outcome.

Why is this so important? There are some challenges in life that can be avoided, like not being late by setting an alarm, or filling up your car with petrol when you are on the road so you don’t break down, but there are bigger challenges that we cannot avoid or have control over.

Having a personal philosophy is like having your own personal WAZE or GPS built in. It’s a compass and a comfort. Ultimately, it can increase your happiness by ensuring your endeavours are aimed at an output that you have designed.

So, how does one design their personal philosophy for living?

1) Identify your key values. Values are the fundamental beliefs of a person. They describe the personal qualities that we choose to embody to guide our thoughts, decisions and actions. They are our unique codes of conduct.

2) Test these values by putting them into practice. We are what we repeatedly do, therefore, if you are repeatedly practicing your values (i.e. kindness, respect, humour, cooperation, gratitude and loyalty etc.), these are most likely your real values. In addition to this, be honest to yourself about your values. Sometimes we place some values above others because we have been taught to or because we feel embarrassed about them. If one of your values is status or wealth, that’s OK.

3) Get inspired by the schools of Philosophy: You might want to choose a type of Philosophy for your foundation, for example; Logic, Stoicism, Ethics, Ontology, Aesthetics, Metaphysics etc… Read up on the basic principles of each and build on these to develop your own unique Philosophy.

4) Talk to others, challenge and be challenged on your values and ideals. The best education we get isn’t always the one we get in the classroom but the one we get from our interactions with others (and we say this as people who have collectively spent decades in formal academic education).

5) Accept that we can only win at the game we’re actually playing, not the one we say we are playing, or the one we’d like to be playing. What does this mean? It means we have to be really honest with ourselves about what our values are and how we are putting them into practice. It makes no sense to live someone else’s philosophy for living.

Author: Jessica McGawley, Principal and Founder