Constructing, evaluating, and maintaining a philosophy requires an open, curious, and introspective mind. These are some tips that may encourage self reflection:
1) Be Introspective. Consider that your life is a creation for which you are the agent and catalyst. Ask yourself, when you die, “How you would like your life to be remembered?”. View your life as an end in itself rather than the means to the ends of others. Reflect on what it means to be a human being and how the process by which you were socialized influences your beliefs and values. Think about your motives and actions and the degree to which they are oriented to enhance your well-being. Seek to differentiate those choices that make you feel good from those that are good for you.
2) Think Critically. Embrace logic, reason, and an objective sense of reality. Question everything that you think, know, and believe. Actively seek out challenges to your beliefs. Do not consider it sufficient to know what you believe, determine why you believe it, where the beliefs originated, and for whose benefit the beliefs exist. Test your beliefs for validity and demand that they align with your empirical experiences and supporting evidence. Be open to the possibility that you hold deceptions and contradictions that can distort your thinking, and work tirelessly to resolve them. The wisest of human beings are those who work the hardest to falsify their own beliefs.
3) Be Inquisitive and Engaging. Read incessantly and maintain a healthy sense of curiosity. Seek and compare sources from opposing points of view and disciplines. Qualify the sources of those perspectives and reflect on the motives of the source. Understand what it means to have confirmation bias and be sensitive to its influence. Show empathy toward other people and detachment from your own preconceived notions. Take a keen interest in others, what they do, and why they do it. Learn to recognize manipulative tactics and deceptive methods. Be aware of self-interested, control-oriented, and profit driven motives. Assume incompetence in others before ascribing evil or malicious intent.
4) Trust Science. Embrace the field of science as uniquely able to determine the nature of reality with some measure of objectivity. Cherish the structure of the scientific method and the means by which it demands evidence for findings and requires peer review to corroborate that evidence. Respect the notion that thousands of scientists are working diligently to falsify the findings of other scientists to ensure that scientific knowledge evolves and that errors in judgment and procedure are corrected over the course of time. No other field or method can come close to matching the success of science in producing results and building knowledge.
5) Respect the Unknown. Trust your empirical senses. If you find that your senses are fooled, work diligently to search for rational and scientific explanations for why you were deceived. Realize that invented explanations for unknown and uncertain phenomena and the building upon those ideas as true, undermine your ability to reason effectively and place your entire cognitive functioning at risk. Avoid giving credence to magical, mystical, or supernatural explanations that have no basis in evidence and which can only serve to deter the exploration and discovery of sound, rational explanations. In learning to respect the “unknown,” and categorizing it accordingly, you become much better equipped to appreciate that which you can know and can conduct your life accordingly. You also become much better able to distinguish those circumstances that you can control from those you cannot.
6) Learn From Experience. Think about and take note of the quality of each interaction you have with the physical and human worlds around you. Set expectations for the results you wish to achieve in advance, compare the outcomes with those expectations, and strive to understand if and why there was a difference between the expectations and results. Develop principles and strategies for improving the nature of your interactions and relationships and continue to revise them as necessary. Incorporate those principles and strategies that work best into your personal philosophy.
7) Practice Integrity. Once you have the foundation of a philosophy, become committed to it. Strive to align your beliefs and values with principles, actions, choices, and that produce effective outcomes. Value what you consider to be true over the need for approval and the need to belong. Hold yourself accountable to the principles that make your philosophy work. Work to structure your life in a manner that is consistent with your philosophy rather than the reverse. Share your philosophy with those that are close to you and engage them in the process of making your philosophy better. Revisit and alter your philosophy if and when the circumstances or evidence warrants.