Counselling and coaching are both wonderful arts that help us to understand and change ourselves. Prior to working in these fields I taught philosophy at tertiary level and I also bring that depth to my work. (I also studied a masters in social science where I focused on positive psychology, to draw on the relevant science as well). It is through philosophy that we cultivate insight, clarity, and meaning. Of course many people see philosophy through the stereotype of the abstract and perhaps brooding intellectual. Today I give expression to what philosophy really is, and why for thousands of years it has guided people through thick and thin.
These days philosophy is mostly an academic discipline. People sit around thinking, reading, and maybe debating. Such things can be wonderful in the context of a fuller life. Of course there is more to life than leisure, and sometimes life is downright hard. This is why I came to philosophy, to face life and grow, and if chatter was all there is to it then I would have walked away long ago. Philosophy at its best is more than just talk.
The ancient Greeks who invented philosophy as we know it did more than sit and think. As I have said before, they reflected in order to live.
Philosophical insight must be rooted in the realities of life. And it must change how we live.
Those ancient philosophers were concerned with truth, but equally with the effect of speaking the truth, with what happens when we share the search for truth with one another. This is why Socrates is the paradigm philosopher, and why his philosophical talk looks so different to that of a modern academic. He wanted people to seriously examine their lives. He wanted us to strive for greater truthfulness and goodness in our way of being. For him philosophy should lead to an increase in meaning, value, virtue, flourishing. If it did not, then it did not matter how logical and clever the discourse was, it was all sophistry. People imagine that Socrates was concerned with our becoming more logical. Read the dialogues and you will see this is not so much the case; he was concerned with our becoming more good. Reason was merely a tool in the service of flourishing.
Socrates confronted people with their need to do better. He was executed for this.
My role is Socratic. I help people to spell out the philosophy and values they are living by. I help them to examine these, in order to draw more clearly on some aspects, while replacing others with a deeper and better perspective. We seek a better vision of what your life can be and set about shaping your mind and heart, your emotions and actions, the structure of your life, to make that vision a reality. This is the adventure of philosophy, at its best. This is why Socrates said the life most worth living, for each of us, will be an examined life. The point of examination is not sitting, reading and talking, but changing for the better. This is philosophy.
The true measure of philosophy at its best is this: does it lead us to live better lives? If it does not then it has failed. For philosophy is about freeing and deepening the mind and heart, and thereby changing the whole of life.