Socrates, one of the renowned philosopher of all times, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, an imaginative poet and essayist have very similar views regarding the secret of leading a content and satisfied life. The one word description of their principle of leading a content life is “individualism”. So, what do they mean when they say that humans are individuals and they practice the principle of individualism for attaining a peaceful and content lifestyle?
The Societal Epidemic
Both Socrates and Emerson hold the view that humans are a by-product of genetics and the societal norms and code of conduct. Each society has a distinctive but definite code of conduct, and it expects the people living in it to behave as per the defined code of conduct. In order to look good among others, living in the same society, a person starts to prefer his or her the societal outlook, referred as the society-self, over his or her own self. Just like every computer is programmed to behave the same way when a given instruction is received, humans are also expected to behave in the same manner, as imposed by the society.
How is Contentment Related to the Societal Epidemic?
The individualism principle of Socrates clings tight to the notion that an individual who has the capacity to think and act differently is stronger and powerful than the entire society of like minds. When a person tries to superimpose what the society demands from him over what he actually wants, there is a part of him called the “self” that is being hurt overshadowed. He thinks his perceptions and ideas of living are worthless, since they do not fit into the criteria of defined by the society, which is made by people no different than himself. When an individual stop questioning on his existence and lives a life in the mere settings of the society, he can be considered as a lifeless person, with a dead “self”.
Emerson states that enforcing oneself to act against the inner feelings is a crime against nature. Every person has been sent to this universe for a distinct purpose, while the society is created in a generalized setting. Getting rich, having a big apartment and a luxurious car, popularity and many other similar things are what we think are mandatory to live a happy and a content life, but unfortunately, this is nowhere near the truth. All our luxurious goals are based on the demands and the outlook of the society, and we have been influenced by them. Earning money will stimulate the urge of earning more, and this feeling might last till the last breath.
As every person cannot be the president of the country, every person cannot be a millionaire. The point here is not to learn new ways to become a millionaire, but to ask whether it is really worth it? People spend half of their life earning money, and the other half in protecting it, thus compromising their self to look good in the society. Education, money, and status are just the pathway towards reaching the ultimate goal of self-realization and improvement, they are not the destination. The realization of self-realization is the key to attain a peaceful and content life, even with scarce resources and luxuries.
This article has been written by Katherine Brunt an educator and student facilitator at Assignment Box. She has been writing articles on global awareness and student welfare for about 3 years now, and has touched a number of lives with her knowledge and assistance.
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