If not hope, then what.. –  “A book about self development, through self discovery”. By Sharilynn Hanslo

A short chapter from my book.

” I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing”. Socrates.

There are people in the world who look different, think differently and behave differently, however, it is through these differences that we are able to discover, new ideas, expand on our own beliefs and become more accepting of others.  Though we are different, there are more things that unite us than those that separate us. We are often driven by the same human emotions. Love, fear, sadness, joy, hope, and anger are some of the emotions we all feel experience. Many of us are more alike than we are different, as people we are driven largely by four primary needs: the need for Attachment, the need for Control/Orientation, the need for Pleasure/Avoidance of Pain, and the need for Self-Enhancement. 

As a humanist, many of my views are influenced by principles such as virtue-based eudaimonistic ethics. Which is the belief that happiness or well-being (eudaimonia) is the highest aim of moral thought and conduct, and the virtues (aretê: ‘excellence’) are the requisite skills and dispositions needed to attain it. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our capacity and responsibility to lead ethical lives beyond personal fulfillment and success. Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion.

As humans, we are innately driven by a desire to find meaning and purpose in our lives, at times forgetting to be present in the moment. However, mindfulness and living in the present aren’t always easy and are often only possible by those who have reached the highest pinnacle of self-actualization.  

It is not death itself that I consider to be the most tragic aspect of existence, but rather the loss of active participation in life. While time serves as the sole systemic factor governing the longevity of an experience, no amount of time will ever be sufficient enough to spend with the people we love. However, It may be that the value of time is bound in its fragility and finite nature. When it comes to our own mortality, time is all but infinite. Irrespective of culture, ethnicity, and social class we all share the same fate, that in time all living things become obsolete.

As time passes, the only thing that matters is the time spent between the parallels of now and then. Traveling has provided me with an understanding of a world far beyond what I could ever have imagined. It is nearly impossible to describe in words the experience of free falling fourteen thousand feet from an airplane at accelerating speeds, because no words can ever adequately describe an experience actively lived. Education gives me the opportunity to learn about subjects that expand, shape, and challenge my ideologies and beliefs. In the process of learning new truths, my views have continued to evolve with time, and each time I’m presented with one irrefutable realization, which is that the pursuit of knowledge and truth is just that, a pursuit. As enjoyable as it is to chase knowledge, it can be comforting to known that you cannot catch it. Instead, all you have to do appreciate it. Expansion of knowledge and self awareness is like boarding a train, while on the journey take in as much as you can before it’s your turn to get off. We cannot control everything just like we will never know everything.

Part of my journey towards self-acceptance has been to give up control and just be present in the now. I have designed a life that may not conform to social standards but rather to my own. If we are not navigating the compass our lives, then someone else will. 

My writing is a form of cathartic expression, allowing me to speak honestly from a place of authenticity. As a writer, I have embraced my demons and gained a sense of peace. This is not because all my demons have dissipated, but rather because I no longer hide from my shadow self. To accept yourself is to accept every part of you even the parts you may want to hide. We are but creatures that continuously change, evolve and learn. There is pride in accepting that what we know is limited, when we recognize that knowledge requires continuous learning, we begin to ask questions while learning to accept that sometimes you might never find the answers you yearn for. You may only have faith, hope.

In the end we are just passing through the school of life. It’s said that some of us will have graduated while others may need to come back and repeat, if this is true then ill be making my return here again at some point. In the end the world remains and exists as it is, in all its beauty and cruelty, its blossom of different faiths and its infinite diversity that radiates different hues across the various spectrums of society. long after we’re gone nature will continue conducting a theatrical symphony, a vivid masterpiece. She presents herself to us in all of her forms, her mesmerizing gentle beauty and her recalcitrant, destructive power. Through the wreckage she leaves behind she tells a historical tale about past civilizations, encapsulating the fact that we are just visitors passing through and that irrespective of who we are, the universe will continue to exist long after we cease to.

There’s a comfort to be found in faith, love , and in having personal convictions. Hope provides us with fuel to continue enduring forward when all we want to do is give up, while personal convictions give us purpose and add meaning to life. Hope, love, and faith are essential aspects to our existence, without it we would be just existing, not truly living. When we limit someone’s right to express their personal beliefs, or view faith as a dream without a plan we limit the process of self-actualization. In the absence of hope, we become destitute. Love is s powerful emotion, when we have an abundance of it, we feel like we can conquer the world, while without it, we feel as though we are conquered by it, and in that way, we strive to maintain that fill in whatever way we can, sometimes to our own detriment.

It’s often during impecunious moments, time of bereavement, sadness, hopelessness and destitution that leads onto the path of self discovery. And it’s on this journey that we truly take flight and learn to fly. Taking flight is an adventure that you must undertake on your own, once you have wings, you are able to see clearly, your view is no longer obscure or hindered by obstacles. The journey of self-discovery is the journey on which you find faith in places where hope seems to be absent, you find it within yourself.  Self discovery is a journey you will embark on alone but it provides you with an overwhelming sense of purpose and understanding and acceptance of yourself you thought was unattainable. Never forget, there is faith to be found even where hope and love seem absent.