Best Life Lessons from 3 Great Philosophers

by Alexandra Carmichael

Wisdom_PearlLife is good, the journey is easy. Reading the words of three wise minds has taught me some new lessons on how to live, and how to enjoy living.

Here are the top 3 take-away messages from Emerson, Robinson, and Seneca.

(I’m still looking for great female philosophers. Let me know in the comments if you have favorites!)

This beautiful mandala is courtesy of the amazing Richard A Waters. Happy reflecting!

1. Trust yourself, be yourself.

Source: http://www.emersoncentral.com/selfreliance.htm

Emerson writes a compelling essay, not only fiercely authentic but advocating fierce authenticity. Be yourself, even when others around you don’t agree. Don’t conform, he says, and don’t even worry about being consistent with yourself. Allow yourself to be in every moment, and stick to the principles that you have chosen for your life. His final words? “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

2. Find your passion.

Sources: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

and http://www.amazon.com/Element-Finding-Passion-Changes-Everything/dp/0670020478

Robinson is a modern philosopher, polio survivor, and educational reformer. His message is simple and strong: Follow what you love doing, let that be ok. Don’t try to change yourself to fit our abominable education system; learn in the way that suits you. He gives the powerful example of a “hyperactive” child who wouldn’t sit still in school. Her mother got the enlightened advice to let her go to a dance school, because she so obviously loved to move and thought by moving. She ended up being the creator of amazing dance productions like CATS.

Robinson’s work is filled with dozens of these inspiring, thought-provoking stories. One of my favorite quotes: “Often we need other people to help us recognize our real talents. Often we can help other people to discover theirs.”

3. Live for today.

Source: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/04/24/on-the-shortness-of-life-an-introduction-to-seneca/

Thanks to my friend Tim Ferriss for this one. My take on Seneca’s message is to use your life to do only what you love doing at every moment instead of sacrificing today for a potentially better but non-existent tomorrow. This one sentence sums it up: “It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it.”

So here’s to doing what you love, being yourself, and enjoying life! Be well and thanks for reading.

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