When Socrates was put on trial in Ancient Athens for corrupting the youth of the city, he allegedly uttered this famous phrase:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
This was derived from one of one of the most important of the Delphic Maxims:
Whenever a visitor passed through the gates at the Temple of Delphi, they would see a set of maxims inscribed high above. These wise sayings were meant to guide their life and to show them the key elements that they should focus on.
In order to live a fulfilled life, the ancient philosophers believed that you need to constantly be examining your life and finding out about yourself. According to them, this was one of the most important tasks, ranking higher than most other things.
It is not only the philosophers that engage in this type of activity. It is a natural tendency of all humans to question their place in this world and to try to maximize their potential.
Who am I and where am I going? People’s life is a quest to find the answers to these questions.
They want to know who they are deep down and what they are capable of.
The most important parts of hero’s journeys are the ones where the hero seeks and finds answers to these questions.
The descent of the hero into the innermost cave marks their realization of who they really are, both in the positive and negative sense and is the turning point in finding out what they are capable of doing. This forms the basis of some of the most heroic actions that they do later on.
It is not only heroes that test themselves, but ordinary humans do it too, in the process sometimes becoming heroes. Especially in the modern age, when technological and societal progress has removed some of the life and death challenges that tested the humans of long ago, this push to test yourself is something that drives many.
The need to find out about yourself is also gaining more and more traction in today’s world. While progress has made many things easier, it has also disconnected many people from nature and natural ways of living. Many people end up getting stuck in soul-killing boring jobs.
They then try to search for jobs (or other activities) that they are passionate about, that give them meaning. Some of them take things even further and go on spiritual retreats, where they meditate and ponder on the meaning of life.
Competitive activities also give an outlet for people to test themselves. That’s why they are incredibly popular. However unfortunately, in the modern age many people substitute engaging in their own competitive activities, with instead watching other people perform these activities (for example fans in sports).
The what am I capable of question is linked to the ability to not be fazed by challenges, and in not lying down, but instead getting up whenever you fall.
There are many challenges that a person needs to overcome on the road to success, and what separates the winners from the also rans is the ability to get back up whenever they fall down. While luck is also a huge factor, incredible drive is a general principle that most successful people share.
You can always change things by adopting a growth mindset and an abundance mentality. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
However this needs to be accompanied by actual deeds, not just words. You don’t want to fall for the Dunning-Kruger Effect, where idiots believe that they are the best thing since sliced bread. You need to back up your stuff with actual accomplishments.
There are two types of people. Ones who are satisfied by pumping themselves up in their heads, and ones who are are only satisfied by proving themselves for real.
Who am I and what am I capable of? Finding answers to these questions is a never-ending quest, but with every deed, you come closer to finding the answer.
Each mountain you climb, each hard task you overcome, each thing you learn brings you closer to your goal.
One of the best things to illustrate the life of a person who dares and dares greatly is the speech by Teddy Roosevelt: The Man in the Arena. It is not the critic who counts, but the man who strives.
Constantly testing yourself, constantly striving for things, knowing that you can fail, but going for it anyways, is the essence of a life worth living.
One of the greatest sources of depression in people is regret, and the older you get the worse regret becomes. That’s why it is important to see and do different things, and to test what you are made of constantly.
That way, you not only find out who you are, but also what you are capable of doing. All these things show you what is possible, little by little, step by step you uncover yourself. Things that were impossible now seem possible. You create a new you.
People want to prove themselves. Sometimes people are tied in by mental limits, but if you try, often you will find out that the things that seemed impossible before are actually quite possible:
Go beyond your limits: how to do the impossible.
In order to find out what I am capable of, I climb mountains and go on long, hard hikes:
I also go to train Muay Thai in Thailand every year (this year will be my third time there):
Training Muay Thai in Thailand.
Physical activities like that are about you and your mind. By completing them, you prove to yourself that you do have the mental toughness to accomplish things that are hard. They are hard when you are doing them, but the sense of accomplishment after is priceless.