|Slyvan, let me pull together, in a kind of abstract way the following differnt things and to unite them in a brief, almost symbolic way of describing one way to go about life... as an attempt to answer the question I think you are struggling with.|
What is in the world and how do I grasp that? Ayn Rand's question-form explanations of metaphysics and episetmology - which, you'll remember she used to create her code of morality and from that base man could flourish - could enjoy. So, lets break it down into a set of daily tasks or approaches.
Grasp the Objectivist principles (a pleasant task with no end in sight). It is simple study - a small part of the day to take some part of the world and study it in an academic fashion. Worm out, or read about the governing principles. Apply them to what we see in the world today. That we know is our intellectual task, the job of our consciousness, and what we must do as a part of our survival. Understand so we can act. I have a set of DVD teaching courses, and a never-ending set of books.
These requirements really do involve a deeper integration because Objectivism is a personal philosophy and one based upon a real understanding as opposed to the repeating of some mantra or chant.
What you come to understand about the philosophy should at different points and in different ways apply to ones own life. But as I've described it in the paragraphs above, it is partially an academic study - a pleasant one - that unfolds more of the truth about the world that should be understood. I like this aspect of learning. I do some of it here on ROR by trying to chew down to a deeper level of understanding on a given issue.
But it can go much further. It is more than learning. It is more than Directive in choosing actions in our personal life. It is Personal Psychology - and done right can directly turn up the volume on our happiness.
My approach is a variation on the Budhist/Hindi practice of Mindfulness - of being in the present, of being accepting, and of staying in focus on "What's good in my life?" and "What needs doing?" - two open-ended questions that I have Nathanial Branden to thank for. They are to be asked each morning as way to set the day's focus. They automatically pull from the framework described in the previous part of this post - from all of one's study, from whatever one knows at the time and in the context of what one's values are and what projects one has going on.
I don't have to ask "What's good in my life as per my Objectivist values?" That part has been integrated. I don't have to ask "What needs doing to achieve my highest priority goals that were integrated from my Objectivist values?" That's done - they are my goals, drawn from my values, vetted by my principles, (drawn from Objectivism?, Yes, but long ago, as an early part of this on-going process).
I'd be amiss in not explaining the process of asking in more detail. It is done out-loud, and with the answers being written, and at a high speed, and in the form of a sentence-stem. That is, you ask out-loud, "One of the good things in my life is...." and your task is to let your subconscious give you the answer. It must be supplied quickly, - anything that is grammatically correct, write it down fast as your fingers move and do it again, and again. (You need about 10 of these answers). The essence of what you are doing is programing your subconcious to be concert with the best of conscious in holding in focus what is most important in you, your life. That is a powerful way to start any day.
This process gets its great power from an understanding that the conscious mind and the subconscious mind share a great many detail-level tasks inherent in the working of memory, value formation, abstraction, integration, and motivation. Yet their communications and coordination leave much to be desired when viewed from the perspective of getting what we want from life. So, we may do well of building a value system we are proud of, and set of principles that tell us much about the world we live in, we still are rarely lucky enough to one of those individuals that stays clear each and every moment about what the next thing to is in achieving the best possible life. This technique of getting the subconscious to spit up suggestions is a good step in that direction because it ties the conscious and subconscious together at a personal, motivational level that is very effective.
The same process is applied to taking your goals, your values, and going from them to what you need to do next. Ask you subconscious as before, "One of the things that most needs doing is..." Again, ask out-loud, answer out-loud, write the answer as fast as you can, accept any answer that is grammatically correct, go fast and don't stop till you have at least 10 answers. (Going fast is a way to 'trick' the subconscious into answering rather than leaving an iota of time for a 'reasoned' answer, which isn't what is wanted. we are trying to get the subconscious to participate - that's the REAL goal.)
So, then, what do you do? Rush off like an automaton to implement in someway those written answers? Of course not. We are complex creatures with mental equipment that arises from structures of different purposes that evolved from different eras, and our job, as the self, is to play this consciouness like a musical instrument (a Branden saying) to get the tune we like best. We reason, we think, we imagine... because this days start is just that, a start - a tuning of the instruments.
But, Slyvan, don't wait. You are the only leader you need to wait for. Something like this is the only scheme that needs adopting, and just be aware that it is on-going and you get to adjust it any way you want. Have fun.