Wonder: Philosophy in Action
“To wonder is to ask great questions of yourself – and that is philosophy in action!” - Barb Stegemann
Our clean perfume company — The 7 Virtues — began as a book called “The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen.” In that book, CEO and founder Barb Stegemann demonstrates how these seven virtues – Wonder, Balance, Truth, Courage, Justice, Wisdom, and Beauty – can help women lead and live in an illogical world.
Using the guidance within her book, Barb was able to transform The 7 Virtues into the clean and ethical fragrance brand we know today. Apart from using the cleanest ingredients — including sustainable and upcycled oils — we also use sustainable materials to create perfumes that give back. At our core, our focus is to empower communities affected by war and strife and to empower women around the world. We do this by centering everything we do around the seven virtues our brand was founded on.
Today, we’ll be discussing the virtue of Wonder.
A Philosopher Queen’s goal is to see beyond the irrelevant and connect with what really matters: her life’s purpose. As such, practicing the virtue of Wonder is the first step to becoming a true Philosopher Queen.
Most of us have dreams and aspirations, but sometimes get lost when we get distracted by external influences. An example in today’s world would be social media. However, challenging negative societal influences and being introspective, asking yourself the “why” of things, can help you define who you are and discover your life’s mission.
A good example of this is Plato’s allegory of the cave. Plato presents a scenario where prisoners are confined in a dark cave, facing a wall, and unable to see the outside world. Behind them, a fire casts shadows of objects on the wall, which the prisoners perceive as reality. When one prisoner manages to break free and ventures outside the cave, he encounters the sunlight and discovers the true nature of reality, realizing that the shadows were mere illusions. He then returns to the cave to share his newfound knowledge but faces disbelief and resistance from the other prisoners who are still bound by their limited perspective.
The allegory symbolizes the human condition — most people live in a state of ignorance and only perceive a limited version of reality. Often, they live their lives in a state of dissatisfaction because they’re afraid to challenge the narrative they’ve been led to believe is true, also known as the shadows on the wall. Those who remain in the caves of their realities are content to live unexamined lives with no desire to stretch for the light.
A Philosopher Queen, however, will question the shadows she sees and seek ways to uncover the truth. This is what Wonder is about – asking yourself questions with the goal of self-improvement. Once the Philosopher Queen has uncovered her purpose, it’s then her job to lead others out of the cave as well.
So… where to start? Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” He was correct. The purpose of this exercise is to examine your current state and let yourself wonder. Ask yourself: “What if?” Then, grab a piece of paper and write down your “what if?” thoughts.
To give you an idea of what this looks like, below are some of Barb’s “what if?” thoughts she had before she launched The 7 Virtues:
I wonder what would happen if I started my own company?
I wonder what would happen if I took some time out of my day to do exercises that I like?
I wonder what would happen if I started taking golf lessons?
I wonder what would happen if I invited the CEO of a bigger company out to lunch?
The more questions you ask yourself, the closer you’ll get to understanding who you are and what your life’s purpose is. It’s then up to you to apply your wonder statements to real life. Remember, dreams don’t work unless you do.
And before you allow yourself to wander into negative what ifs (“What if I fail?” “What if people laugh at me?”) think, “what if it all works out?” Change the way you speak to your subconscious as you question your life to inspire positive change.
In time, practicing the virtue of Wonder will improve your personal and professional lives. Furthermore, your determination and achievements may inspire others to exit the cave, too. The more Philosopher Queens exit the cave, the more our world will improve because it will be populated with leaders who are authentic and understand their purpose in life.