8 Life Lessons To Learn From Nietzsche's Most Important Works
February 12, 2018|Andrea Mejía
If we take a close look at Nietzsche's most famous works, we'll see that he shared memorable words of wisdom we can apply in our everyday life.
Friedrich Nietzsche has been widely known for his nihilistic philosophy and for controversial misquotes, such as the famous “God is dead,” that many interpret as an atheistic statement or his outright denial of the existence of God, when in fact, it was originally used referring to how we as a society have “killed” the notion of God through the materialist rationality that came after the Enlightenment. Moreover, Nietzsche gained his controversial fame after Hitler used his idea of the Übermensch or the “Superman” to support the supremacy of the Aryan race, when in fact it was a concept attempted to depict humanity’s potential to become the best version of themselves. Basically that’s the core of Nietzsche’s philosophy. His nihilism isn’t just a mere denial of religious morals, beliefs, or certain social rules just because. To sum up part of his philosophy as much as possible, he believed that once you realize that all those rules and morals are nothing but a social construct, you can become the master of your own fate and live according to your own values, exploiting your full potential. That’s why we can find great gems of wisdom in his most important works. Let’s take a look at them to learn how to make the most of our life.
Human, All Too Human
“Most people are far too much occupied with themselves to be malicious.”
This quote, centered on the nature of humanity, shows a fact that we might overlook when we take things too personally: that most people aren’t malicious at all, but rather focused on their own lives. Focusing on your own things can end up being harmful towards others, but at the same time there isn’t necessarily an inherent “evil” behind that attitude, but the natural need to survive and look after your well-being. The fact that your friend at work didn’t say hi to you today does not hide a mean intention, they might just be too busy or worried about something. The key of this quote is learn to stop taking others’ actions personally. Just as you have problems of your own, the same happens with everyone else.
“He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute.”
How many problems could we avoid if we learned to apply this lesson in our lives? Being cool-headed is a great quality, especially when arguing, because it allows you to see the problems with a clearer mind and find a solution rather than remaining in the confrontation. If we think about it, most of our arguments of others last not because of the problem itself but because we let our anger blind us and keep us in the dispute, instead of finding a quick and effective solution to it.
Thus spoke Zarathustra
“You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame; how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?”
If you want to improve and become a better version of yourself, you have to let go of old views about yourself, about the world, or about particular situations. Also, when you go through obstacles that make you feel shattered, you have to remember that it is only through those challenges that you can transform. In this quote, Nietzsche reminds us of the mythical phoenix to show how even those moments of destruction and crisis can be our way of self-transformation. However, to notice or encourage that change, we need to let go of the past to embrace the change that’s about to come.
“Silence is worse; all truths that are kept silent become poisonous.”
Sure, we've all kept secrets at some point in our life, but when we keep everything to ourselves, we’ll eventually have to ven. If not, those secrets become a harmful burden we’ll carry with us throughout our life, or on the contrary, we’ll burst them out in the least convenient moment. When those secrets have a personal repercussion, for instance, feelings we don’t share with others or things about ourselves others don’t know, can end up harming us. The worst thing we can do is keep thoughts and feelings to ourselves. While I’m sure there are people around you willing to listen to you, writing your secrets down on a piece of paper can be enough to combat that poisonous silence the philosopher refers to.
Twilight of the Idols
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
There are moments in our life where we feel stuck in a creative rut or empty of new ideas. While we might think it’s better to focus on forcing the idea to come, this valuable piece of advice is quite useful. Going out, having some fresh air, taking a stroll, and being conscious of everyday life’s pace not only can help distract you from the stress that those ruts cause, but in fact, that distraction can indirectly make you see things from another perspective, and so come up with new ideas. Or even better, in your stroll you might find a solution with something you see. Instead of isolating yourself, go out to the world. It has plenty to teach you and many different ways to help you call the muses.
“If we possess a why of life we can put up with almost any how.”
When we feel lost in life, it’s because we don’t have goals or dreams. And no, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be lost because you haven’t found THE purpose of your life. This quote refers to having an objective, whatever it is. Once we have that, the how-to or the development of the process won’t matter. That’ll be something you’ll learn on your journey. So, maybe you haven’t found a sublime purpose to dedicate your whole life to, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The key is having a goal, even if it’s something small as learning to wake up early or doing your chores. Once you reach that goal, you can find another, and so on.
“Ultimately no one can hear in things –books included– more than he already knows. If you have no access to something from experience, you will have no ear for it.”
It doesn’t matter how much you read or hear about something, you won’t really learn about it unless you open yourself to living it. Nothing teaches you more than experience. This doesn’t mean that if you want to learn about tigers you have to go the jungle and live with them. You can meet experts, perhaps see those animals in a sanctuary. The thing is being curious enough to have a close approach to the new things you want to learn, and experience them if it’s possible and doesn’t harm others or yourself. Don’t be satisfied with just reading the Wikipedia page.
“Resentment, born of weakness, harms no one more than the weak person himself.”
In our life we’ll meet people who will harm us in different ways. However, the worst thing we can do is live all our life resentful because that bitterness harms us more and for a longer time than what they did to us. Forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when someone harmed us so badly. Nonetheless, deciding to forgive someone is more of an agreement with yourself to let go of grudges that become a burden and spoil our life. You don’t have to be friends with the one who hurt you or pretend nothing happened, but you can move on without that resentment that made your life bitter.
These are just a few lessons that Nietzsche taught us in his greatest works. However, if you’re curious enough you can take a thorough look at them and embrace those life lessons. In the end, they are all means to become a super-person! But if you want to check out other life lesson by great authors, don't miss these articles:
Photos by Elliot Dunning