We live in a culture that so often expects us to look outside ourselves for entertainment or guidance, whether it be the worshipping of celebrity, the following of gurus, health experts and life coaches, or the moral guidance of religion, political parties or scientific knowledge. This outer focus is essential, we exist in relationship to others and are fundamentally social creatures, but equally with the multitude of distractions it’s easy to ignore the inner world. How often do we see politicians or activists who prescribe answers for creating a fairer, more peaceful or beautiful world failing to uphold those same values in their own lives. How can we expect a peaceful world if we can’t have peaceful interactions at home? The Ancient Greeks had the maxim ‘know thyself’ that stressed the importance of self reflection and truly understanding who we are. We so often take our culturally engrained perceptions as truth. We have clear notions of right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, but how often do we really sit and ponder on the root of these beliefs, and how well do they hold up under examination? Are we acting according to some innate truth or are we just conditioned to respond in ways that uphold the values of our culture and our families? Many a book or album has been written by those who choose to isolate from society and spend time going inwards, whether it be monks on silent retreat, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra or Bon Iver in his cabin. It may be a luxury a lot of us will never be afforded with our life commitments but there is a lot to be said for removing the ability to reflect off another and taking away the validation of others, what are we when we strip that away? I think that’s a question we can ask ourselves by simply finding a quiet moment during the day and questioning what really makes our heart sing. When do we feel alive? What makes us feel shame, depressed or contained? These are questions that a culture of constant stimulation and dopamine addiction tries to prevent you from ever asking. I think because when we do, we realise that the answers to many of our problems lie within and won’t be solved through consumption, entertainment and distraction. I think truly knowing oneself is one of the great mysteries of life, I think the more we delve the more we find and the more there is to unravel but I think it’s an important project, not so we can become narcissistic and self-obsessed but so that we can react to life’s problems from a place of awareness, compassion and understanding rather than simply reacting from old patterns that may have been shaped by a desire to please, a fear of being liked or an instinct for survival above all else. When we truly start to know ourselves we become aware of how we can best serve ourselves but also others around us.