To make a very long story short, I was raised secular. I had no religious, moral or spiritual influences growing up (although my mother had a Buddhist phase during my later childhood which accounts for my sympathy toward eastern points of view).
In keeping with this value-vacuum, I naturally became Atheistic. For many years I saw the world in a very deterministic way. Everything manifests from complex procedures of cause and effect - including our biology and mental states. Paradoxically, the world seemed easier to understand this way but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was ignoring a very deep intuition about how reality presents itself to people.
As an aspiring clinical psychologist, I have grown weary of looking at other people like machines with no place for a soul to be hiding. Most people certainly don't feel that way and they don't look at the world that way.
I've recently started to investigate the deeper aspects of human consciousness and what drives people to be better (as they would define it for themselves). Simple questions arise like "why do some people with lots of money still feel bad about their position in life?". There's something else at work. Something very deep.
An excerpt from my studies...
Existentialism argues that it is an oversimplification to view people as controlled by fixed physical laws, the approach is nondeterministic; that is, people cannot be correctly viewed as cogs in some vast machine. This approach, therefore, encourages theories that consider issues of individual initiative, creativity, and self-fulfillment. These are especially matters of concern for humanistic psychologists. Humanistic approaches to personality psychology focus on the active, positive aspects of human growth and achievement.
This is starting to make a bit more sense to me as I develop in my own life. Some part of me is still skeptical about the idea that people are "good" by default. I believe we have to work very hard to reach the status of "good" that also aligns with the "good" that society expects of people. Ex. Don't follow your passion if your passion is torturing someone in your basement.
More importantly, I suppose, is that I'm starting to realize, more and more, the absolute worth of people in general. I'm tired of being cynical about human nature. I see so much potential in people, including myself. A capacity to overcome hardship and suffering. Sometimes the thought of actualizing these potentialities is enough to motivate and inspire. So, as you can see, I have found an enclosed circuit of meaning in this approach as it pertains to myself and those around me. It's a self-sustaining philosophy that I am very excited to explore and find practical applications.
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