How to escape these 2 enemies of happiness!

How to escape these 2 enemies of happiness!

via the Ladders by Zat Rana

Not many people looked to Arthur Schopenhauer in his lifetime, but his thinking about human nature has deeply influenced a long list of subsequent writers and philosophers.

He was one of the first major Western thinkers to incorporate aspects of Eastern philosophy into his work, except that many of his conclusions were generally a little more pessimistic.

He saw reality as driven by a blind will that manifested itself in humans as illogical and pointless desires. For him, the only way out of this was through a kind of asceticism, where much of our material pleasures are given up as to fight against this irrational will.

The biggest criticism of Schopenhauer is indeed this defeatist view, one that didn’t attempt to strike a balance. Nonetheless, it’s clear that he had thought deeply about these issues, and even if his conclusions were unsatisfactory, there was still a kernel of truth to them.

In his essay The Wisdom of Life, he did something unlike him. He deviated away from his pessimism and tried to outline what it would take to live a happy life in this world as it is. In doing so, he insightfully pointed to one of the chief struggles of our existence:

“The most general survey shows us that the two foes of human happiness are pain and boredom. We may go further, and say that in the degree in which we are fortunate enough to get away from the one, we approach the other. Life presents, in fact, a more or less violent oscillation between the two.

The reason of this is that each of these two poles stands in a double antagonism to the other, external or objective, and inner or subjective. Needy surroundings and poverty produce pain; while, if a man is more than well off, he is bored. Accordingly, while the lower classes are engaged in a ceaseless struggle with need, in other words, with pain, the upper carry on a constant and often desperate battle with boredom.”

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