Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness

Since the late 1990's, Alain de Botton has been breaking down difficult philosophical and literary ideas and seeing how they apply to people's everyday lives. He did this with his 1997 bestseller, How Proust Can Change Your Life. And he took things a step further with his television series called Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness. The episode above delves into Nietzsche's belief that happiness only comes about with great effort and hardship. In the remaining five episodes, de Botton gets into Socrates on self confidence, Seneca on anger, Epicurus on happiness, Montaigne on self-esteem, and Schopenhauer on love. Each episode runs about 25 minutes. You can also find all six episodes neatly displayed on one page here.


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  • Nietzsche’s words… “That which does not kill me… makes me stronger.” Who amongst us hasn’t heard this said in one way or another in our life. A statement profound in its simplicity….

    Ask Yourself…
    Copyright 2007 Michael Gibbowr

    The Failure of my Failures
    Is that they never failed to Fail to Remind me
    That Failure is a singular Act of Misfortune
    That at Worst is Troublesome and at Best Temporary

    But in time my Daddy’s Words
    Filtered through my Troubled Nights
    Reminding me of the Basics
    And Set my Mind Aright

    “It’s Better to have Failed at Something…
    Than to Succeed at Nothing!” He’d Always Say
    And as it turned out Those Words
    Would Prove to be a Light in my Darkest Days

    He also Taught that Living Life on Purpose
    Will Exact a Price you’ll Have To Pay
    And that come Right or Wrong
    From your Principles you should Never Stray

    He Taught me that Duty, Honor, Country
    Are More than a Metaphor
    He Did this By Example
    Who could ask for more…?

    And though many are those who’ve pointed out
    My Daddy’s Feet of Clay
    My Opinion of the Man
    Is Not Inclined to Sway

    Not just Because I Learned From Him
    How to Be the Man that I’ve Become
    But because the Content of His Character
    Exceeded All He’d ever Said or Done

    Having lived some myself
    With a Fair Share of Flaws of My Own
    And Observed the Inclination of Many
    To Criticize from the Safety of their Comfort Zone

    I’m of the Opinion
    That a Life that is Wholly Lived
    Is one that is Often Scarred by Circumstance
    Having Dared to Risk It All in the Effort That You Give

    Yes you could Live Comfortably in Quiet Desperation
    As the world proceeds to Pass you By
    And that Safely Sheltered World
    May offer Little Cause to Cry

    But then you have to Ask Yourself
    At the Risk of Failure, Tears and Pain
    If the Pursuit of Your Better Self
    Is Worth what it Costs Without Compromise to Claim

    Only You Can Answer That Question
    Just as of myself I’ve had to do
    Is It Worth The Risk Of Failure
    To Be A Better You…?

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