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Brain Food #792: Life lessons from Albert Camus
Being paradoxically optimistic
Thoughts of the day
The sign of a great mind is one whose thoughts remain relevant across time, providing a way to decode, understand and navigate the complexities of being. One such influence on the lives of many has been Albert Camus, who was born on this day more than 100 years ago in Drean, Algeria.
As a philosopher, Camus was paradoxically optimistic. The happy man, he claimed, is the one who accepts life as it is, with all its absurdities. That is, after all, also why “one must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
Camus’ view of happiness perhaps remains to this day the most relatable. Exactly because life is absurd, because it has no meaning, and because the universe is largely indifferent to what happens to us, we must live it to its fullest, and assign our own meaning to it; sometimes those meanings can be multiple.
Here are ten Camus quotes to start your week:
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.”
“But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?”
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion."
“People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves.”
“For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the unstoppable grandeur of this life.”
“Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.”
“There is a life and there is a death, and there are beauty and melancholy between.”
“Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.”
“A woman dancing without a thought in her head, a bottle on a table, glimpsed behind a curtain: each image becomes a symbol. The whole of life seems reflected in it, insofar as it summarizes our own life at the moment. When we are aware of every gift, the contradictory intoxications we can enjoy (including that of lucidity) are indescribable.”
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