I’ve long been very interested in how humans should live. What is the optimal way to live our lives? Unfortunately, I’m not yet qualified to answer this question. I don’t know if anyone really is or ever will be. To have a perfect answer to this question is to deny any possibility of your thesis being falsified. Unfortunately, it is very easy to offer perfectly reasonable rebuttals to almost all answers to this question, as did Socrates. So I’ve decided to invert the question. The question now seems much easier to answer but I still don’t know if there can ever be a perfect response. This will be the first of several articles discussing things people can avoid in order to better their lives. I accept that people will disagree but I urge readers to remain open-minded.
Avoid Instigating Violence
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Humans no longer have any natural predators. Violence is a carnal drive that has become obsolete in our society. People who resort to violence are almost always oblivious to the alternatives (which are almost always better) and quite often lack any social constraint thus rendering them extremely ignorant. In Western society, when confronted with a situation in which violence is an option, it takes a very unintelligent person to consciously select that as their default course of action. In some cultures it may be more appropriate. But for the most part, I can’t think of any situations in which instigating violence is going to be a more “optimal” approach than reasonable alternatives.
Avoid The Fear of Death
As humans, we all understand that death is unavoidable. This foresight is likely exclusive to humans as well. And yet, this unique ability has caused nothing but troubles for the laymen. It would seem as though being unaware of the guarantee of death would lead to a much happier life for everyone. However, whether we like it or not, we do have this knowledge of our impermanence and so then the question becomes how can we utilise it for our benefit instead of our undoing? It’s quite simple. When you understand that the most anything can come to is death, you learn how silly it is to take life so seriously. It would seem as though, in our culture, we treat the 80 years we might get as sacred. We view it as if we only get one shot at life and that we will be locked up in a great black box for eternity afterward. We frantically look for purpose and productivity and any means by which we can cure ourselves of our mortality, as though it were a disease. When you come to realise the stupidity of this, your outlook on life changes drastically. It is optimal to understand death and not be ignorant or fearful toward it.
Avoid Living in the Future
This platitude is perhaps the most important of them all. Most of us realise how ineffective living in the past is but we seem largely ignorant to the debilitating consequences of living in the future. When you life is governed solely by goals, ambitions, desires, progress, one-upmanship, sacrifice, dreams, visions of the future, etc. you lose sight of the present moment. How silly is it to live anywhere but in the here and now since, as I mentioned above, we’re all going to die eventually! That’s right; I’m about to say it. Life is too short. Forget about the pursuit of happiness and instead just be happy. This is difficult to do in our society but it can be done.
Avoid Drifting Unconsciously Through Life
It’s very easy in today’s society to play by the rules your entire life. So many of us close our eyes and do what we’re told because it’s “right”. We become as much a product of society as any other inanimate object produced in our factories. Don’t just do what you’re told because it’s right. Question what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how it is right. And if it is right, how can you make it more right? Question everything. It amazes me that more people aren’t curious as to why the universe is the way it is. Or more importantly, why society is the way it is. Be curious because our very existence is the most curious thing.
I think that’ll do for now. Stay tuned for Part 2.