Socrates was charged with impiety and corruption of the youth of the city state and was put on legal trial. Although many of his followers and students encouraged him to flee Socrates refused to flout the law and escape his legal responsibility to Athens.
He was a loyal citizen of Athens and strongly believed in following the laws of the land. He said that if he didn’t like the laws he could have chosen to leave. Since he chose to live his life in Athens he had entered into a social contract with the state. Fleeing meant that Socrates would be destroy all of his ideas and truths.
When found guilty of his charges, Socrates remained faithful to his teachings of civic disobedience to the law and the 70 year old executed his death sentence by drinking Hemlock.
Socrates was best known for critical thinking and reasoning to pursue the truth in the service of virtuous living. And more than 2000 years after his death, Socrates’ pursuit is still spoken of today.
The headstone test: Imagine you were to die today or tomorrow.
What would you want written on your headstone?
How would you want to be remembered?
Would you want people to say: she was the richest person I’d ever met!
Super! Now you are the richest dead person in the cemetery.
Or would you rather people say: she was so kind and incredibly generous and helped me become a better person.
Think about it. You are here for this brief amount of time, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Having a purpose in life motivates you to be your best self and it helps you build that legacy.
What is your purpose?
Here’s a start.
Ask yourself: What affirms your sense of self?
Find out what matters the most to you. Who/what inspires you? What causes do you care about? What are you grateful for? What makes you want to get out of bed?
Your purpose in life is a self organizing life aim, it organizes your life. It is related to who you are and what you value. This encompasses your goals even if they change over time. What are your goals?
Your purpose is also linked to your behavior. Your actions will reflect who you are and what you value. What are you excited to to live for?
For Socrates what mattered most was the pursuit of truth and justice. He cared about making people question ideas before they accepted them as truth. He wanted to help people live meaningful lives. His goal made him want to get out of bed in the morning and affected his behavior and personality.
He embodied his passion and conducted rational inquiry before making decisions. He stood behind his commitment to truth and justice until the very end. He picked a cause that he was committed to and he spent his entire life working towards it. He drank hemlock and today his dedication to rational inquiry and pursuit of truth remains his legacy. Socrates led quite a purposeful and meaningful life if we are still discussing his legacy 2000 years later!
How will you practice purposeful living?