In our first two posts on Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life, we learned that happiness consists in what a man is rather than has, and that health is the foundation which makes such joy possible. We now turn toward the crafting of our daily lives, the purposeful ordering of one’s actions to achieve his or her potential.
Become What You Are
Schopenhauer believed there is no greater gift than intelligence and the leisure with which to pursue it.
He believed that we must guard our thoughts and time so as to ensure we are working toward our own goals, and that the wise will value this above all else. In finding that which brings us most joy, we actually become shielded from the superfluous in life, and out of respect for our own finite time and unique gifts, we learn to organize our daily experience in ways which best serve us.
“The man to whom nature and fate have granted the blessing of wisdom, will be most anxious and careful to keep open the fountains of happiness which he has in himself; and for this, independence and leisure are necessary. To obtain them, he will be willing to moderate his desires and harbor his resources, all the more because he is not, like others, restricted to the external world for his pleasures.”
When we have found our “fountain of happiness,” whether it be a passion, work, or loved ones, our daily focus becomes maintaining its constant flow. In finding the thing we most desire, we become free from all that we do not.
Distractions of the modern age not only become nonsensical, but we recognize that they are an obstacle to our development– an enemy pulling our attention and time away from that which we value most. We become immune to their influence, and once we learn why we are here, all we ask of life is the opportunity to pursue that which we are called to.
“From his surroundings he asks nothing but leisure for the free enjoyment of what he has got, time, as it were, to polish his diamond.”
Schopenhauer stresses that the pursuit of one’s highest self becomes a fundamental need for the individual. As Abraham Maslow taught, “What a man can be, he must be.”
Call to Action
There has never been a you before; your particular combination of personality and education are a novel occurrence. You are fashioned to see the world in a way no human has, and there exists a particular task for which you, above the rest of humanity, are most suited. Find that task.
Once we do, its fulfillment becomes our greatest endeavor.