The Greek Philosophers
Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” Much of the suffering that human beings experience can be linked to the thoughts that they think. A behavioral tic becomes a habit, so when we think thoughts of excellence or success regularly, it’s obvious we should be more successful.
Heraclitus: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” The core idea of this quote is that nothing in life and the universe is permanent. This includes our identities as well. Since both our internal and external worlds are always changing, we should be less attached to any current state of being.
Socrates: “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” For anyone familiar with Socrates, this quote makes perfect sense. His entire ethical system was based on human reason.
For him, life was about knowing ourselves, and through doing that, increasing our ability to reason. Once this is done, we can make better choices that lead to greater happiness. This is also shown in his other famous quote, “The unexamined life is not worth living”.
Philosophers of The Far East
Lao Tzu: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present”. Psychologists agree with this famous quote too. Research shows that activities that require people’s full attention are those that bring them the most happiness. These include things like creative tasks and good conversation. Though he lived 600 years before Jesus Christ, the wisdom of this semi-legendary Chinese figure has stood the test of time. No one actually knows who this great philosopher was, but Lao Tzu’s teachings started Taoism, a way of life and sometimes called a religion. Even today, millions across China and Asia follow its principles.
Confucius: “To rank the effort above the prize may be called love.” This quote means the recognition that effort is just as important as the end result. Confucius lived about a hundred years after Lao Tzu. However, he is probably just as influential as in that his teachings formed much of Chinese and East Asian culture. Much of these cultures’ core beliefs can be traced to him. These include the sense of duty and the high regard for family relationships.
Buddha: Suffering exists.” It may seem strange that a quote on suffering can help people live a better life. Yet if it’s examined more closely, the wisdom of the Buddha, real name Siddhartha Gautama, is plain.
His simple observation acknowledges a fact of life. The quest to end suffering forms the basis of Buddhist teachings. Once we recognize that misery and pain are a part of the human experience and that they do exist, we can teach ourselves to no longer be anxious or afraid of them.