Sophrosyne

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

1 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophrosyne

9 Comments Add yours

  1. wmeberle says:

    Hm, yeah, that’s a tough subject to tackle, but well done, Mikaela! This seems like one of those topics that is kind of easy to describe in a general way but the specifics are very slippery… It’s like asking someone to teach them how to play chess – describing the framework, the rules, is simple; but, try to explain strategies and how to approach a game and it’s so much tougher!

    Your reference to the English word “temperance” gave me pause and I kept that in mind as you were going through your explanation. For me, the word “temperance” conjures up images of the Temperance societies that sprung up to lobby against alcohol. And, perhaps because of that history, “temperance” has an association with limiting something, reducing something to acceptable levels. The concept of “sophrosyne” seems to be different in that, to me, it seems to embrace the view that “this is good and it makes me happy” or “this is enough to make me happy”. I kind of get the feel that “sophrosyne” is more of an acceptance that an overabundance of a thing isn’t necessary for me to be happy. That if we take a good, hard look at a situation, we will realize that what we have in that situation can make us happy, we don’t need to continue to strive for more of that thing to be happy.

    I’m not disagreeing with you at all, Mikaela, I think that you’re right. That phrase about “Becoming satisfied with yourself and the journey you are on is the first step…” is so important, it’s the foundation on which our happiness is built. Being satisfied with the car we have, the love we have, the friends we have, etc., but not being happy with ourselves will result in an unhappy self – always… Finding that path for us to stay happy with ourselves isn’t about limiting how we feel about something or limiting how much of something we do, but recognizing that what we can do might be enough to make us happy. Sure, sometimes we will look at our efforts and say, “you know, I need to work harder at this because it’s a priority” and that’s a good thing! But only working on that one thing to the exclusion of all else probably isn’t such a good thing. Sure, we should look at steps we can take to change our situation to get to a place where things are in better alignment to make us happier. As you say, the journey is an important part of getting to where we will be happy.

    What a wonderful thought exercise, Mikaela! You’ve done a fantastic job of conveying what “sophrosyne” means, I believe. It’s a slippery, morphing subject that can be better experienced than explained 🙂 And, yes, for most of us that will be a lifelong pursuit. But every little baby step we take towards achieving sophrosyne makes our lives better and that, I believe, bleeds over to the lives of those around us.

    Thank you so much for taking on this difficult task and helping to give us some serious thoughts about how we can make our lives better. Namaste, Mikaela! *hugs*

    Liked by 2 people

    1. mjaquette says:

      Thank you so much William. It’s definitely a tricky subject to talk about. I tried to touch the surface as best as I could!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. wmeberle says:

        Sometimes all one can do is give that first little push of a rock down a hill. Then you step back and see what results… 😊 👍

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Gerard Potvin says:

    What a beautiful word! The sentiment and meaning, so hard. What is bewildering to me, is when you actually feel that inner peace and knowledge of self, but someone that is supposed to know you as well questions if it is real. It is demoralizling. So to reach Sophrosyne is hard enough, but to maintain it, that takes truly wonderful people around you that allow you to stay there.

    There are so many great people in this world that can help people feel great, but that 1 person, thing, event that can crush everything else. I try to pump the positive in my life and keep the negative from encroaching my happiness. It certainly is a daily battle, but a battle that I will more than willing to fight, and win.

    Thank you yet again for your wonderful outlook. Beautiful as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mjaquette says:

      Thank you for reading Gerard!! It’s hard to achieve but such an amazing feeling!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post – I had never heard of this word so thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jobeccarn says:

    Another enjoyable blog. Thank you for sharing what you are learning….mind, body, spirit, soul exercising. A Holistic approach to health and well-being.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Frank Dalziel says:

    You have done a superb job of explaining the complexities of Sophrosyne to someone like me who wasn’t familiar with that word or concept. Yes, I’ve experienced parts, but honestly, am still searching for balance.

    I never realized the Greek language could be so beautiful, yet so complex. Yes, I think most of us search for our whole lives without achieving this balance of mental, emotional, and physical comfort and happiness. Intrinsically, most of us know what we want (or think we do!), yet really we have no idea how to move forward in an orderly and balanced fashion.

    You once told me (re: fitness) to put in the work to get the reward at the end. My answer to a similar question might have been to write a Standard Operating Procedure outlining how to go about that! Haha! (I’d still be writing!) You summarized achieving fitness life in one or two sentences! Yes! Now I understand. We are all different and all need to choose our own path; right or wrong, and make corrections along the way.

    Thanks for this wonderful piece of writing on the word, Sophrosyne. As always, you have given me a lot to think about. Take care. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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