Men are a thousand times more intent on becoming rich than on acquiring culture, though it is quite certain that what a man is contributes more to his happiness than what he has. – Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher, though he was born in what is now Gdansk, Poland. Philosophy being philosophy, he is associated with a variety of schools of philosophical thought, but in a nutshell, his outlook was that man is controlled by his will, which he defined as our wants and cravings. How someone responded to those wants and cravings defined the life he led.
Schopenhauer, by the by, also had one of the traits you tend to find in people who live down the ages: a great belief in themselves. He wrote his first book while at university, a book his mother, also a writer, said was, among other things, “incomprehensible”. Schopenhauer had a different idea and rather presciently announced his works would be read long after his mother’s works were forgotten, which more or less turned out to be the case.
Schopenhauer’s fundamental tenet was that man could better himself by sublimating his wants and cravings so man could determine what he was really supposed to do with his life.
Schopenhauer had a point. A life chasing pleasure or wealth is generally not a life that leads to inner satisfaction. People who spend decades living this life often, when their time comes to die, wish they had spent their time on this planet following their hearts, answering to the force that speaks to all of us from deep inside.
…what a man is contributes more to his happiness than what he has.
Wants and cravings are good, but they must be the wants and cravings that come from inside, not the result of outside influences. They must be the want of accomplishment and a craving to make your time on this planet serve you. This only comes after we have looked inside ourselves to find the life we were meant to live, the path we were meant to follow. When we do that, wants and cravings are put to their best use, leading us to the life we were meant to live.
The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.