Five Life Lessons from Philosophy

Disclaimer: this is not my work but rather a piece that I found inspirational on Medium. Every day I strive to either write an original story or copy write on Medium. Original work can be found here: https://medium.com/personal-growth/5-life-lessons-from-philosophy-4e7f00e80892#.pxg1qx3lg

I enjoy philosophy because it gives me direction. Though it doesn’t always tell me what I want to know, it reveals what I ought to know. Following are five short, philosophy lesson that have guided me in asking the right questions in life.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man.” — Heraclitus

Permanence is an illusions. Everything changes, every moment — physically, biologically, psychologically. Even you have since the time you started reading this. You will continue to change forever, and so will everyone in your life. Change conquers everything, especially those who don’t expect it.

“Man is affected, not by events, but by the view he takes of them” — Epictetus

How things affect us depends on how we feel about them. How we feel about depends on what we believe they mean. Our mind is our home. It’s where we live. However, our world is an unpredictable jungle of chaotic events scrambling our home like uninvited wild animals. The only real control we have in this ever-changing world is in our home; what we permit in, where we put it, and how we use the meanings we give it to tame it.

“We shape clay in a pot, but it is the emptiness inside the pot that holds whatever we want” — Lao Tzu

Formulating meanings and opinions is important, but just like a bowl that isn’t hollow, can’t hold water, a mind that isn’t free of preconceptions, can’t occupy anything new. Nothing exists without nothingness; especially life. We place great value in our possessions and experience, but in John Lennon’s words — “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

“There are conditions of our existence that we cannot change, so it is best adopt a noble spirit towards them.” — Seneca

We are like dogs on a leash, tied to a running chariot. Like life, the chariot may turn and we must turn with it. But sometimes, our hopes lure us in a different direction, causing the leash to strangle us. Frustration happens when unforeseeable reality crashes in to misplaced hope. Foreseeing reality is almost impossible. Therefore, it is wiser to withhold hope. Hope only lifts us higher for a harder fall. This is not to say that we must pessimistic. It is to acknowledge the nature of our immediate realities before setting immediate expectations, in both easy and difficult times.

“This too shall pass” — Attar of Nishapur

Because, it always does. Time heals all wounds. No matter how difficult things become, with the power of patience, you can survive all obstacles. In the words of Marcus Aurelius — “We are each of us, stronger than we think”.