At any point in our lives, we are doing one of two things; we are either acting or reflecting. We are either in motion or we are still.
In each of those modes of life—action and reflection—we need but one tool.
Action is directed by heuristics, some of which are simple, some of which are complex and conflicting. Examples: “Be of value to others.” “Avoid pain or discomfort.” “Do more of what you enjoy and find exciting, and less of what you don’t.”
Reflection is guided by questions, some of which are context-specific and small, some of which are big and universal. Examples: “What do I want to do with my life?” “How can I do better next time?” “Why is she doing that?”
These two modes form the base of a pyramid. I give it the rather innocuous title of “the pyramid of life.” It’s the simplest conception of human existence that I have. In prose, it can be stated as follows: The two modes of life—action and reflection—are guided by heuristics and questions, which, in turn, are determined by an overarching philosophy.
Visually, it looks like this:
I tend to over-think and complicate everything, the big and the little. I draw clouds of mystery onto a sky that is, for the most part, already a clear blue. I do this because I tell myself that it can’t be that simple, that it must be harder, more complex to understand, more difficult to discern. But most of the time, it isn’t. Big questions can, and often do, have simple answers. And when I asked myself what the simplest model that would help me navigate my time on this earth was, the above pyramid came to mind.
Life is simple, and to make your way through it you need just three things; heuristics, questions and a philosophy.