Can Philosophy Save Your Life? (Part 2)

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Can Philosophy Save Your Life Part 2On September, 19, 2011, exactly one week after this blog was first launched, I published a post titled “Stress Is Not A Psychological Disorder.”

In that article, I said:

“While it may appear that stress is primarily a psychological disorder, it is not. Stress is actually a philosophical disorder.  And while philosophical disorders often resemble psychological maladies, they actually arise from a different source. They arise from having a whole bunch of very poor philosophies.”

Click here to read the rest of this original post.

“Less Than Ideal” Personal Philosophies

Perhaps accusing people of harboring very poor philosophies is not the best way to win friends and influence readers.  So let’s call them “less than ideal” personal philosophies.  Any way you describe them, they are basically underlying thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, opinions and theories that frequently get us into trouble and often result in stress. 

And to make matters worse, we rarely appreciate the role these deep-seated, less than ideal personal philosophies are playing as causative factors in the stress we experience.

Examples Of Stress-Generating Misguided Philosophies

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of less than ideal personal philosophies we human beings can harbor.  And if you go back throughout the history of human civilization, you can find hundreds if not thousands more, such as:

  • The earth is flat and if you go over the horizon you will surely die!
  • The best way to treat most major illnesses is with leeches
  • The sun and other planets revolve around the earth
  • Human beings consist of a mind, a body, and a soul or spirit (this could be news to some of you) 

Today, we laugh at some of these wildly incorrect theories (except the last one perhaps), yet we’re all guilty of believing in false ideas that repeatedly get us into trouble.

Without trying to explain any of these in detail, here are just a few examples of contemporary less than ideal philosophies that quickly come to my mind:

  •  Money will bring us happiness
  • Bigger is always better
  • More is always better
  • If it feels good, do it
  • If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it
  • Asking for help is a sign of weakness
  • Men are more powerful than women
  • My thoughts and feelings are usually consistent with what’s true
  • Doctors know what makes people sick
  • If two people are madly in love, their relationship/marriage is destined to succeed

I throw these out here for you to contemplate on your own.  Obviously, we could debate each and every one of these, and you could argue that there are definitely times when some of these philosophies make sense and other times where they clearly don’t.

The bigger point, however, is to encourage you to ask yourself the question: What less than ideal philosophies do I personally harbor? 

Of all the possible questions you could ask yourself to help you deal with your stress, I’m not sure there’s a better one than this.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Paisley March 20, 2013 at 6:02 PM

What about stress-related to job workloads, money issues, etc?
Although I agree that less than ideal philosophies or personal beliefs can play a role in stress, causes of stress are not limited to those less than ideal philosophies


Doc Orman, M.D. March 21, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Sarah: You are absolutely correct. There are both internal and external causes of our stress. However, I believe the internal (i.e. our philosophies) are far more important, because depending upon your philosphies, you may not be stressed as much by external circumstances as are others.


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