Everyone is busy. You, me, the guy cutting you off in traffic, that irritable person who pushed you in the elevator. We all have some new and interesting problem coming along to make our days just a little harder. We all have anxieties.
The modern world is as anxious and stressful as it has ever been. Despite our modern conveniences and wealth, we often find ourselves with less time and more expenses. We have to, don’t we? After all, being excellent at our jobs, sociable, active in our community, and patrons of the newest and flashiest stores and restaurants is the good life, isn’t it? Who has time for anything else?
A few philosophers remind us to take a break every once in a while, and just breathe.
While most people see the tycoon, celebrity, or the like as an ideal to be strived for, Schopenhauer offers us “The Sage“. An individual who can overcome their desire, and retreat from the stresses of life to live as an intellectual. He did offer a more practical solution for the rest of us, and advised stressed people to spend as long as possible with art and philosophy, which gives us a moment of clarity. However brief, it is a break from our daily labors to spend in beauty and reflection.
A more optimistic philosopher, Epicurus, was a committed hedonist above all else. However, he understood that happiness was, in the end, best found in tranquility, moderation, and pleasures of the soul. He wrote that excess of nearly any kind will cause dissatisfaction later, and many followers of his school set up communal living arrangements to further explore the ideas of this way of life.
To the east, Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, reminded us that “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Leaving his post at court and living as a hermit, and reminding us of the joys of slowing down. He wrote that, “To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” Imploring us to take a moment to stop our rushed and anxious thoughts to just be. That being, he argues, helps us to find our real selves.
Alright, but how can we have that?
The answers are many, and differ from person to person; but many simple and wonderful ideas come to mind in a hurry. Go watch a cool video about nothing, go for a walk in the park, play sports, watch the sunset, read a good book, go stargazing, or even just watch some birds. Take a moment to ask if rushing around all the time is really what you want or even need. Just asking can make it seem like less of a burden.
We can’t all escape the rush of the day to day, but a few great thinkers remind us to take a break now and then, and find a moment to lose our minds in something beautiful.