Sophrosyne (N.) A healthy state of mind, characterized by self-control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one’s true self, and resulting in true happiness.
Yet another Greek word with so much meaning and beauty in just that one SINGLE word! How do the Greeks do that!? There’s never just one English word to go along with them usually either, it’s a paragraph, a novel, and even then the word still has so much meaning to explain! The one English word that comes a bit close though would have to be temperance, a virtue to some, which is defined as self-restraint or moderation, but temperance doesn’t always resolve in true happiness.(1) Sophrosyne is gaining that balance with EVERYTHING so you attain true happiness. This is something we all strive for and try to achieve. It is a life long struggle though and not a state that very many can honestly say they have reached. If we are always striving for it however, then we see glimmers and can achieve parts of that true happiness.
All of us struggle with self-doubt, wanting our lives to be like the people around us that we admire. We cannot come into tune with our true self however, if we do not first become confident and secure in ourselves. In our ability to be enough and our self-love. This is not a vain or prideful type of love. You can still be humble and confident at the same time. No this type of self-love promotes the positives in your character and helps you strengthen and learn to love those qualities. Becoming satisfied with yourself and the journey you are on is the first step to being aware of your true self and Sophrosyne. We all have moments where the self-doubt will creep in again, but we must consciously fight back and not let it win. Don’t let your backtalk be what is stopping you. We all know the saying about using negative feedback to fuel your ambitions even more and prove all the naysayers wrong. That must include our own negative backtalk as well.
Self control and moderation can sometimes be viewed with a negative connotation these days I feel. Our society is all about if you want to do it, do it…. Which in many contexts is a good message. We should do whatever we set our minds to. Moderation though is so important in many aspects of our life. A huge one for example is eating. Having a balanced diet is key to health, body goals, etc. Having the more processed or sugary items in moderation helps cut back on the negative effects down the road. Have self-control about eating those things and know when to say no or refuse something because you know it is not best for you. It is alright to say no and refuse things if you feel they will harm you personally. On the other side of the spectrum however, do not starve yourself or shut yourself off from everything. That isn’t healthy either! You must find that beautiful and perfect balance with everything to find that true happiness. I gave an example with eating, but this balance is in EVERY aspect of life. You cannot half do life. You must live it to the fullest, figure out what truly makes you happy and content, and then learn to consistently live with that balance.
Many people try to find that balance through meditation, prayer, silence or music… etc. There are many ways to find that inner balance. Use what best benefits you, but do take the time to work on that inner balance. Remember nothing amazing ever just comes to you. You have to put in the work to get the reward at the end. You have to be willing to delve into yourself and maybe learn to understand yourself in a way that is completely different and uncomfortable for you. We have to be willing to stretch ourselves, step out of our comfort zone and try new things. We find ourselves when we push ourselves. We learn our strengths and weakness, likes and dislikes and we learn to be comfortable in ourselves. When we are comfortable with ourselves we then become secure and aware of what is good and what is bad for us. Resulting in… true happiness aka sophrosyne!
Easier said than done however…. It is so easy to write this down in a post and think, “oh yeah if I do this, this, and this then I’ll get true happiness, have a healthy mindset, etc. That’s easy and I’ll be super consistent with it too!” Ha don’t we all wish that were the case!? If only life was perfect and that easy. The struggle makes the journey and end goal that much sweeter though. Taking the time to pray or meditate like I stated above is so key in attaining sophrosyne. You really only hear about great elders, saints or wise people who spend so much time in meditation or prayer finding that perfect balance and peace. Many of us with our busy daily lives and work do not get to focus all our time to reflection, but we should take a little time out of our day to do even just a bit. It can be anywhere you feel most comfortable and not insecure about opening up. I wrote previously about my “Doug Talks.” I pray in my car and take that time to really work on myself and think about ways I can be more secure and happy with myself. Happiness is so important. No one should rob you of your happiness and light.
I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of sophrosyne and all the meaning behind this word. This one little word describes all of our constant striving to find that inner peace and true happiness. It is never going to be something we have consistently though unless we give all of our time to trying to achieve it, and I mean ALL of our time. That is so hard when we live in a world full of distractions. Learn to detach yourself from all of that though and focus on what truly makes you happy. The little things that bring about that security in yourself and awareness of what lights up your soul. Consciously choose to focus on all those little things every day instead of looking around you at what you don’t have. You will be happier and satisfied living this way. xoxo
Photo by Stephan Bullard