The Wisdom Of Life | Arthur Schopenhauer

Summary of: The Wisdom Of Life
By: Arthur Schopenhauer


Dive into the wisdom of Arthur Schopenhauer’s ‘The Wisdom of Life,’ where he explores the essential elements of happiness through three categories of blessings – personality, property, and position. Learn the significance of your health and intellect, how wealth can satisfy material needs but not inner ones, and why being aware of others’ opinions often does not contribute to well-being. Journey with Schopenhauer as he urges readers to discard superficial aspects of life in favor of a robust internal landscape that ultimately leads to happiness.

Three Blessings of a Happy Life

The three categories of blessings that contribute to human happiness are personality, property, and position.

The question of how to live a fulfilling life has been pondered by philosophers since ancient times. Aristotle classified human blessings into three categories, but they differ slightly from what really counts. The three main blessings that determine human happiness are personality, property, and position.

Personality refers to an individual’s inner constitution, including their mental and physical attributes, character, moral outlook, and education. It is determined mostly by nature and plays a significant role in governing human happiness. A healthy beggar, for instance, will be happier than a sick prince. Intellectual fulfillment is also vital to happiness. Solitude and self-reflection can sometimes be more satisfying than social interaction.

The category of property, or what a person has materially, is the second blessing. Material wealth can satisfy basic needs, but it does not provide lasting satisfaction or compensate for a lack of inner wealth. Wealthy individuals, for example, are not always happy.

Finally, the third category is position, or how one is perceived by others. An inwardly rich person will not give much thought to the opinions of others and will simply live their life.

Achieving happiness requires a careful balance of all three blessings. Personality is the most important of all, as it is responsible not only for mental and physical fulfillment but also for refining moral outlook. Property and position can bring temporary joy, but inner wealth is the key to long-term happiness.

The Blessings of Life

Your personality, health, and mind are the three distinct categories that make up the blessings of life. Health accounts for nine-tenths of happiness, and a little exercise each day goes a long way. Leading an intellectual life keeps your mind engaged and staves off boredom. Inner wealth and happy self-sufficiency are products of a rich and fertile mind. On the other hand, an empty mind leads to a search for entertainment, diversion, and luxury to stave off boredom. Therefore, who you are truly matters a great deal in determining human happiness.

Understanding Property and Its Role in Our Lives

The concept of human needs was divided by Epicurus into three distinct categories. The first includes natural necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. The second category is comprised of natural yet unnecessary needs that satisfy the senses. The third are outright luxuries that diverge from natural and necessary requirements. Despite the overlap among these categories, people tend to expect only what they believe is possible to obtain based on their perspectives. This is why someone born wealthy typically takes better care of their resources compared to someone who stumbles upon wealth. A “favorable fate” of being born into wealth can lead to greater independence and a better sense of control in one’s life. By understanding the role of property in our lives, we can discern what we truly need and pursue our goals with greater clarity.

Position & Vanity

Our obsession with how we appear to others is often unnecessary and can hinder our happiness. Vanity, the excessive attention to others’ opinions, is a real obstacle to inner peace. As demonstrated by the story of Lecomte, who was more concerned about his attire than his impending execution for conspiring to murder the French king. Overconcern for others’ attitudes is the source of roughly half of life’s anxieties. Although reducing this natural impulse is difficult, seeing it for what it is – complete folly – can bring us one step closer to eliminating it. Inner contentment and peace of mind are crucial to happiness, and placing too much value on other people’s opinions will only distract us from achieving these.

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