Philosophy, art, love, friendships, travel

Alain De Botton and the Philosophy of Our Everyday Lives

“Let death find us as we are building up our matchstick protests against its waves.” -Alain de Botton

The truth is, none of us really know it all.

However, there are certain people in the world who seem to have an uncannily keen understanding of human nature in a way that most of us ignore. When we think of philosophy, we tend to think of the ancient greeks passionately arguing about morality, ethics, or the question of God. If we are willing to expand our perspectives, (and be brave enough to confront some rather difficult ideas) we will then find philosophy actually is very present and relevant in our everyday lives.

If we are willing to expand our perspectives, (and be brave enough to confront some rather difficult ideas) we will then find philosophy actually is very present and relevant in our everyday lives. Not only does philosophy serve to expand our existential and spiritual beliefs, it also is a powerful instrument in living more satisfying, fruitful lives.

Philosophy, art, love, friendships, travel

Alain de Botton is a British-based philosopher who writes lots of novels on the philosophy of human nature, relationships, work, and travel.

Botton serves as an incredible inspiration, as his work functions as a road between the spiritual depths of philosophy and the ordinary problems and characteristics of everyday life. Botton helps to understand what makes us human, why we are compelled to certain behaviors, and how to make our lives more intentional and authentic by understanding the nature of ourselves.

On work:  

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”

On love:

“One rarely falls in love without being as much attracted to what is interestingly wrong with someone as what is objectively healthy.”

“Do you love me enough that I may be weak with you? Everyone loves strength, but do you love me for my weakness? That is the real test.”

 On memories:

“Most of our childhood is stored not in photos, but in certain biscuits, lights of day, smells, textures of carpet.”

“The inability to live in the present lies in the fear of leaving the sheltered position of anticipation or memory, and so of admitting that this is the only life that one is ever likely (heavenly intervention aside) to live.”

On overcoming challenges:

“You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days.”

“The difference between hope and despair is a different way of telling stories from the same facts.”

“It is perhaps when our lives are at their most problematic that we are likely to be most receptive to beautiful things.”

On travel:

“The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”

“Travel agents would be wiser to ask us what we hope to change about our lives rather than simply where we wish to go.”

Understanding ourselves doesn’t necessarily make our lives easier, but rather, more purposeful.

Literature, art, and music are wonderful opportunities for expanding our perspectives. At a first glance, poetry and philosophy don’t seem like essential tools for living a more productive, successful life- but they are. By developing more forgiving, tolerable, and curious mindsets, we are subconsciously opening our arms to copious amounts of new possibilities and opportunities for growth.

It’s natural for people to wish to avoid the often-morbid literature of philosophy.

Alain de Botton strikes a very careful balance of being honest while still encouraging a positive, and well-balanced world view. Upon accepting that life will always be riddled with difficult choices and failures, we are in turn become more flexible and better-equipped to deal with those challenges when they come.

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