17 Ways to Seize the Day. Por Roman Krznaric

Artigo de Roman Krznaric, originalmente publicado no blog Outrospection (http://www.romankrznaric.com/outrospection/2013/07/15/1989)

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I’ve just finished writing a new book on empathy, due out early next year, provisionally titled Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution. In my effort to get the manuscript in on time, I’ve been neglecting answering emails and dealing with bills, and my study is piled with bits of paper that I’ve been meaning to file for months. I just came across one of those bits of paper that I’d completely forgotten about. It’s a list of 17 ideas to help you seize the day, which I prepared for a School of Life project a few years ago called Carpe Diem Daily. The project (which is now over) involved creating a website that offered participants a simple daily task where they were invited to snap a photo, make a short video or write a few lines of text that could be shared online with others. So here are the tasks I contributed (along with people like the guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds and the slow-culture writer Carl Honoré). You might consider trying out a few of them for yourself and posting the results in the Comments section of this blogpost.

1.‘We seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit – our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to see the world through those who are different from us.’ – Barack Obama. Take one photo of empathy, and one of its absence.

2.‘The hidden thoughts in other people’s heads are the great darkness that surrounds us,’ writes the historian of conversation Theodore Zeldin. Have a conversation with a stranger today. Write one thing about it that surprised you.

3.The ancient Greeks had six different words for love. Video yourself telling the world your 30-second definition of love.

4.‘To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.’ – Oscar Wilde. Phone somebody in your family and apologise for something you’ve been meaning to apologise about for a long time. Tell us what happened.

5.‘You are what you eat,’ wrote the eighteenth-century gastronomic philosopher Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Tell us what the contents of your fridge reveals about your personality.

6.According to the philosopher A.C. Grayling: ‘If there is anything worth fearing in the world, it is living in such a way that gives one cause for regret in the end.’ Write your own obituary in 50 words or less.

7.‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ – Mahatma Gandhi. Photograph something you want to change.

8.‘Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.’ – Aristotle. Send a postcard to a friend you have lost touch with. Take a photo of what you wrote and send it in.

9.One thing we all have in common is that we have all been children. Yet we easily forget how differently children see the world. Record a sound that would intrigue a five-year-old.

10.‘If the diver always thought of the shark, he would never lay hands on the pearl,’ said the medieval Persian philosopher Sa’di. Which of your fears would you most like to overcome?

11.In 1492 the Moorish King Boabdil wept when he was forced to hand over the keys of the beautiful Spanish city of Granada to the invading Christians from the north. Tell us what makes you cry.

12.If you lived a hundred years from now, what would be your biggest worry in life?

13.Do you think it is better to be a high achiever or a wide achiever? Give us your thoughts in under 50 words.

14.‘Man is a tool-making animal,’ said Benjamin Franklin. Photograph the main tool you use to do your work.

15.Communities are disintegrating all around us. Or are they? Photograph the best and worst of the street you live in.

16.‘Dreams are often most profound when they seem most crazy.’ – Sigmund Freud. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you want to be?

17.‘Even if it’s a little thing, do something for those who have need of man’s help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it,’ wrote the humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer. Tell us one thing you would give up to make the world a better place.

Último post de encerramento de 2013. How to Master Simple Living in 2014. By Roman Krznaric

Artigo de Roman Krznaric publicado originalmente na YES! Magazine (http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-movement-to-live-more-simply-is-older-than-you-thought)

 

The Movement to Live More Simply is Older Than You Thought

O filósofo grego Diógenes, que levou a vida simples ao extremos de ir morar em um barril. Pintura de Jean-Léon Gérôme

O filósofo grego Diógenes, que levou a vida simples ao extremos de ir morar em um barril. Pintura de Jean-Léon Gérôme

When the recently elected Pope Francis assumed office, he shocked his minders by turning his back on a luxury Vatican palace and opting instead to live in a small guest house. He has also become known for taking the bus rather than riding in the papal limousine.

The Argentinian pontiff is not alone in seeing the virtues of a simpler, less materialistic approach to the art of living. In fact, simple living is undergoing a contemporary revival, in part due to the ongoing recession forcing so many families to tighten their belts, but also because working hours are on the rise and job dissatisfaction has hit record levels, prompting a search for less cluttered, less stressful, and more time-abundant living.

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At the same time, an avalanche of studies, including ones by Nobel Prize-winning psychologistDaniel Kahneman, have shown that as our income and consumption rises, our levels of happiness don’t keep pace. Buying expensive new clothes or a fancy car might give us a short-term pleasure boost, but just doesn’t add much to most people’s happiness in the long term. It’s no wonder there are so many people searching for new kinds of personal fulfillment that don’t involve a trip to the shopping mall or online retailers.

If we want to wean ourselves off consumer culture and learn to practice simple living, where might we find inspiration? Typically people look to the classic literature that has emerged since the 1970s, such as E.F. Schumacher’s book Small is Beautiful, which argued that we should aim “to obtain the maximum of wellbeing with the minimum of consumption.” Or they might pick up Duane Elgin’sVoluntary Simplicity or Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin’s Your Money or Your Life.

I’m a fan of all these books. But many people don’t realize that simple living is a tradition that dates back almost three thousand years, and has emerged as a philosophy of life in almost every civilization.

What might we learn from the great masters of simple living from the past for rethinking our lives today?

Eccentric philosophers and religious radicals

Anthropologists have long noticed that simple living comes naturally in many hunter-gatherer societies. In one famous study, Marshall Sahlins pointed out that aboriginal people in Northern Australia and the !Kung people of Botswana typically worked only three to five hours a day. Sahlins wrote that “rather than a continuous travail, the food quest is intermittent, leisure abundant, and there is a greater amount of sleep in the daytime per capita per year than in any other condition of society.” These people were, he argued, the “original affluent society.”

In the Western tradition of simple living, the place to begin is in ancient Greece, around 500 years before the birth of Christ. Socrates believed that money corrupted our minds and morals, and that we should seek lives of material moderation rather than dousing ourselves with perfume or reclining in the company of courtesans. When the shoeless sage was asked about his frugal lifestyle, he replied that he loved visiting the market “to go and see all the things I am happy without.” The philosopher Diogenes—son of a wealthy banker—held similar views, living off alms and making his home in an old wine barrel.

We shouldn’t forget Jesus himself who, like Guatama Buddha, continually warned against the “deceitfulness of riches.” Devout early Christians soon decided that the fastest route to heaven was imitating his simple life. Many followed the example of St. Anthony, who in the third century gave away his family estate and headed out into the Egyptian desert where he lived for decades as a hermit.

Later, in the thirteenth century, St. Francis took up the simple living baton. “Give me the gift of sublime poverty,” he declared, and asked his followers to abandon all their possessions and live by begging.

Simplicity arrives in colonial America

Simple living started getting seriously radical in the United States in the early colonial period. Among the most prominent exponents were the Quakers—a Protestant group officially known as the Religious Society of Friends—who began settling in the Delaware Valley in the seventeenth century. They were adherents of what they called “plainness” and were easy to spot, wearing unadorned dark clothes without pockets, buckles, lace or embroidery. As well as being pacifists and social activists, they believed that wealth and material possessions were a distraction from developing a personal relationship with God.

But the Quakers faced a problem. With growing material abundance in the new land of plenty, many couldn’t help developing an addiction to luxury living. The Quaker statesman William Penn, for instance, owned a grand home with formal gardens and thoroughbred horses, which was staffed by five gardeners, 20 slaves, and a French vineyard manager.

Partly as a reaction to people like Penn, in the 1740s a group of Quakers led a movement to return to their faith’s spiritual and ethical roots. Their leader was an obscure farmer’s son who has been described by one historian as “the noblest exemplar of simple living ever produced in America.” His name? John Woolman.

Woolman is now largely forgotten, but in his own time he was a powerful force who did far more than wear plain, undyed clothes. After setting himself up as a cloth merchant in 1743 to gain a subsistence living, he soon had a dilemma: his business was much too successful. He felt he was making too much money at other people’s expense.

In a move not likely to be recommended at Harvard Business School, he decided to reduce his profits by persuading his customers to buy fewer and cheaper items. But that didn’t work. So to further reduce his income, he abandoned retailing altogether and switched to tailoring and tending an apple orchard.

Woolman also vigorously campaigned against slavery. On his travels, whenever receiving hospitality from a slave owner, he insisted on paying the slaves directly in silver for the comforts he enjoyed during his visit. Slavery, said Woolman, was motivated by the “the love of ease and gain,” and no luxuries could exist without others having to suffer to create them.

The birth of utopian living

Nineteenth-century America witnessed a flowering of utopian experiments in simple living. Many had socialist roots, such as the short-lived community at New Harmony in Indiana, established in 1825 by Robert Owen, a Welsh social reformer and founder of the British cooperative movement.

In the 1840s, the naturalist Henry David Thoreau took a more individualist approach to simple living, famously spending two years in his self-built cabin at Walden Pond, where he attempted to grow most of his own food and live in isolated self-sufficiency (though by his own admission, he regularly walked a mile to nearby Concord to hear the local gossip, grab some snacks, and read the papers). It was Thoreau who gave us the iconic statement of simple living: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” For him, richness came from having the free time to commune with nature, read, and write.

Henry David Thoreau, circa 1850

Henry David Thoreau, circa 1850

Simple living was also in full swing across the Atlantic. In nineteenth-century Paris, bohemian painters and writers like Henri Murger—author of the autobiographical novel that was the basis for Puccini’s opera La Bohème—valued artistic freedom over a sensible and steady job, living off cheap coffee and conversation while their stomachs growled with hunger.

Redefining luxury for the twenty-first century

What all the simple livers of the past had in common was a desire to subordinate their material desires to some other ideal—whether based on ethics, religion, politics or art. They believed that embracing a life goal other than money could lead to a more meaningful and fulfilling existence.

Woolman, for instance, “simplified his life in order to enjoy the luxury of doing good,” according to one of his biographers. For Woolman, luxury was not sleeping on a soft mattress but having the time and energy to work for social change, through efforts such as the struggle against slavery.

Simple living is not about abandoning luxury, but discovering it in new places. These masters of simplicity are not just telling us to be more frugal, but suggesting that we expand the spaces in our lives where satisfaction does not depend on money. Imagine drawing a picture of all those things that make your life fulfilling, purposeful, and pleasurable. It might include friendships, family relationships, being in love, the best parts of your job, visiting museums, political activism, crafting, playing sports, volunteering, and people watching.

There is a good chance that most of these cost very little or nothing. We don’t need to do much damage to our bank balance to enjoy intimate friendships, uncontrollable laughter, dedication to causes or quiet time with ourselves.

As the humorist Art Buchwald put it, “The best things in life aren’t things.” The overriding lesson from Thoreau, Woolman, and other simple livers of the past is that we should aim, year on year, to enlarge these areas of free and simple living on the map of our lives. That is how we will find the luxuries that constitute our hidden wealth.

Roman is an Australian cultural thinker and cofounder of The School of Life in London. This article is based on his new book, How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life (BlueBridge). www.romankrznaric.com @romankrznaric

Roman Krznaric is an Australian cultural thinker and cofounder of The School of Life in London. This article is based on his new book, How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life (BlueBridge). http://www.romankrznaric.com @romankrznaric

As seis variedades do amor, na perspectiva dos gregos. Reflexão para a vida contemporânea

Eu li um livro interessantíssimo nesse ano, que não perco a chance de indicar a meus amigos. Trata-se de Sobre a arte de viver, do historiador da cultura Roman Krznaric. Trata-se de um livro de ensaios em que o autor analisa as lições do passado sobre 12 temas universais – do trabalho ao amor, do dinheiro à criatividade – que podem nos ajudar a enfrentar nossas inquietações cotidianas.

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De todos os ensaios, meu preferido é o que trata do amor. O autor parte de uma premissa provocadora. Hoje em dia, com o quase culto que existe ao café, temos um vocabulário extremamente sofisticado para dizer o que queremos. Podemos pedir um cappuccino, um expresso, um latte ou talvez um macchiato. No entanto, nosso vocabulário é extremamente pobre quando queremos dizer que amamos alguém. Amamos. Ponto. Os gregos antigos, diferentemente,  eram muito sofisticados na maneira falavam sobre o amor, reconhecendo seis variedades diferentes.

O ensaio identifica os seis tipos de amor, para os gregos e analisa como eles podem nos inspirar a superar nossa atual dependência do amor romântico, nossa eterna busca por uma alma gêmea única, que possa satisfazer todas nossas suas necessidades de amor.

Então, os gregos identificavam as seguintes formas de amor:

Eros : O primeiro tipo de amor era eros, em homenagem ao deus grego da fertilidade, e representou a idéia de paixão sexual e desejo. É interessante que o autor revela que para os gregos, Eros nem sempre era algo positivo, como se pode imaginar. Eros era visto como uma forma perigosa e irracional de amor que poderia tomar conta do sujeito e possui-lo. A noção de Eros, para os gregos, envolvia a ideia de perda de controle. É algo muito próximo do que muita gente busca hoje, procurando perder-se de paixão.

Philia : A segunda variedade de amor era Philia, que se aproximava da amizade. Os gregos a valorizavam muito mais do que a sexualidade, base do eros. A Philia era a amizade profunda, a camaradagem que se desenvolvia entre irmãos de armas, dos campos de batalha. Muito associada com a lealdade para com os seus amigos ou mesmo o amor entre pais e filhos. Todos nós podemos nos perguntar o quanto desta philia/camaradagem/amor que temos em nossas vidas, em uma época em que tentamos acumular “amigos” no Facebook ou “seguidores” no Twitter, sucessos que dificilmente teria impressionado os gregos .

Ludus : Era a idéia grega do amor brincalhão, o carinho entre jovens namorados. Todos nós já tivemos um gosto dele na paquera e provocações nos estágios iniciais de um relacionamento. Mas também vivemos a nossa ludus quando nos sentamos em torno de uma mesa de bar, rindo com os amigos, ou quando saímos para dançar. Dançando com estranhos pode ser a atividade lúdica final, quase um substituto lúdico para o sexo em si . As normas sociais tendem a desaprovar este tipo de frivolidade afetiva em adultos, mas um pouco mais ludus pode ser exatamente o que precisamos para apimentar nossa vida amorosa .

Agape : O quarto amor, e talvez o mais radical, era o amor ágape ou altruísta. É o amor que temos para com todas as pessoas, sejam familiares ou estranhos distantes. A palavra Agape mais tarde foi traduzido para o latim como caritas , que é a origem da nossa palavra caridade . Também aparece em outras tradições religiosas , como a idéia de metta, ou ” bondade amorosa universal ” no Budismo Theravada . Há evidências crescentes de que ágape está em um declínio perigoso em muitos países.  Acho que é fundamental reavivarmos a nossa capacidade de se preocupar com estranhos. Ter caridade.

Pragma: Outro amor grego era pragma ou amor maduro. É o tipo de profundo conhecimento que se desenvolve nos casamentos de longa duração, em que se estabelecem compromissos para ajudar a manutenção da relação ao longo do tempo, com paciência e tolerância recíprocos. O psicanalista Erich Fromm disse que gastamos muita energia falling in love, quando deveríamos nos esforçar mais para stand in love. Fazer mais esforço para dar amor e não apenas recebê-lo.

Philautia : A variedade final de amor foi Philautia ou amor-próprio. Os gregos perceberam que havia dois tipos. Um deles era uma variedade nociva associada com narcisismo e focado em ganhar fama e fortuna pessoal . Uma versão mais saudável de Philautia reforçava sua capacidade mais ampla para o amor. A idéia era que, se você gosta de si mesmo e se sente seguro consigo próprio, você vai ter mais amor para dar aos outros ( hoje isso se reflete no conceito de inspiração budista de “auto- compaixão ” ) . Ou, como Aristóteles disse, ” Todos os sentimentos amistosos para os outros são uma extensão dos sentimentos do homem para si mesmo. ”

Onde ficamos com tudo isso: Os gregos descobriram diversos tipos de amor em relacionamentos com uma ampla gama de pessoas – amigos, família, cônjuges , estranhos, e até mesmo consigo mesmo. Isto diverge radicalmente de nosso foco típico em um único relacionamento amoroso , onde esperamos encontrar todos os diferentes amores embrulhados em uma única pessoa ou alma gêmea. A mensagem dos gregos é nutrir as variedades de amor e busca-las em diferentes fontes. Não basta procurar eros, cultive também a philia, passando mais tempo com os velhos amigos ou desenvolva o seu ludus, divertindo-se noite afora.

É um convite a abandonar a nossa obsessão com a perfeição. Não espere que o seu parceiro lhe ofereça todas essas variedades de amor, todo o tempos (com o perigo que você pode deixar de lado um parceiro que não consegue viver de acordo com seus desejos ). Um relacionamento pode começar com uma abundância de eros e ludus brincalhão, então evoluir para incorporando mais pragma ou ágape altruísta.