Prologue for Trispectivism

Books about self-help, self-awareness, and variations of these genres have existed for centuries. Ever since the ancient Greeks, wise thinkers, confused philosophers, and wealthy scholars have been preaching about pious and virtuous lives. The examples are endless: Confucius and his emphasis on education; Plato and Aristotle, both pagan sages who wanted to share their philosophy for the greater good of humankind; Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas of Aquinas, who wrote manuals for the good Christian (which, in another context, are just as good for any other religion). The Summa Theologiæ, written by the latter between 1264 and 1274 AD, is a compendium of teachings about virtues, talents, and costumes, and is generally a pious perspective about living the greater good. It is important to acknowledge that if you remove the theological point of view and can manage to disregard the religious connotations in most of those books, what is left is a magnificent work of art that illustrates most aspects of life. You will find self-help and coaching in every religion for the simple reason that, underneath cultural stratums and historical backgrounds, we are all the same (sharing the same concerns, instincts, sorrow, worries, stress, depression, etc.). Whether we are Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, Christian, Muslim, animist, or of any other faith, in the end every person on this planet suffers from the same psychological disorder: humanism.

In the sixteenth century, Thomas More published Utopia, which can be considered the most successful self-help book of that time. In it, More describes a perfect society mostly based on neo-Platonian philosophical ideas. While reading about how a perfect, peaceful society should be, the reader realizes that it can serve her as a guide for understanding the surroundings.

Moreover, the advices on how to better serve and behave within her society will in turn be to her benefit and will lead to happiness. Even though More refers to society or the global community, the individual is found in every word and thought. Thomas Hobbes also wrote a self-help and auto-awareness masterpiece, but his was written from a more political point of view. In 1651, he published Leviathan, which concerns how a person with power should act under various circumstances. A contemporary book on a similar subject is Wayne W. Dyer’s Your Erroneous Zones, published in 1976, which excels in the matter of the power of the self and its interaction with the world. Other best sellers include John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1992), about the relationship and understanding of the other sex; and Paolo Coelho’s Manual of the Warrior of Light (1997), which extracts short passages from the Tao Te Ching, the Bible, the book of Chuang Tzu, the Talmud, and various other sources. Other parts of books, chapters, and even a simple citation can also broaden one’s perspective, enriching personal experiences. Obviously we are not talking about a magic formula that automatically springs one from misery to everlasting happiness; these books serve as tools that can help us properly maintain the machine we call the “I”. And just as with the creation and completion of a beautiful statue, tools are needed for carving and elegantly shaping the model you want it to be.

Today, many famous figures—successful businesspeople, politicians, movie stars, and singers, for example—write (or sign) their versions of self-help books. No doubt they went through much turmoil and hardship to get to their positions, but it is not about fame. Most people on this planet will never be famous (think for a second what would happen if everyone did become celebrities— famous would be normal and we would have to again look for new role models). In my opinion, a book such as this cannot be written by a famous person (or by a ghost writer); it contradicts everything the teaching is about, making it a book more about the “self ” of the person who wrote it than the “help” you can apply into your life.

To conclude this brief prologue, I will only add that my desire to write this self-awareness book came in large part from the fact that my own happiness was inspired by books of this kind, each of which, in its own peculiar and particular way, contributed to a better understanding of myself and the world around me. My goal is simple: to broaden perspectives. In a world where it is easy to adhere to this or that concept, people define one another with endless designations—you might be called a relativist, positivist, dogmatist, iusnaturalist, nihilist, Cartesian, Freudian, Manichaean, rationalist, creationist, and so on. Even though these concepts can at times help us to relate to a person better, they can also contribute quite a bit of confusion in that they attach to a person many characteristics that can easily be revealed as false and irrelevant.

Even when a person describes himself using a certain designation, she disregards the fact that her interlocutor might have a different definition for such abstract terms, and thus leading to more confusion. We have long been swimming in a sea of topics and definitions, in large majority abstract and open for personal interpretation. These topics tend to leave us perplexed and give us false reassurances and feelings of understanding, which later give birth to misinterpretations and quandaries. This book is yet another evaluation of our perspectives, whether cultural or educational, with the goal of a more prosperous peace, ample understanding, and perduring happiness.


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