Philosophy of life

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Most people in Norway live lives free from poverty and violence. We enjoy access to education and work, public health care and social services.

Simultaneously we see the most rapid and encompassing changes ever in history when it comes to both culture and technology. We experience a flood of information within fact- and fiction, the total amount sometimes being overwhelming and representing a threat to mental health. The ideals for outer beauty and observable health, for performance within the social, sexual and professional career-related areas seem unachievable and enervating. The break-down of lasting relations of love, family and friends requires much from each and one of us individually.

Another flood of information conveys threats of climate changes, environmental crises, hunger, poverty and war. All this may create anxiety. The more we engage in work for equality and care for others, for peace and cooperation, the better. We can all to something for our fellow-men.

In this situation however, we need to take care of our own mental health. We should develop our inner silence and the ability to be mentally present in what we do. We need to refine our ability to concentrate and cultivate our skills in separating the essentials from the general noise – separating cultural values from advertisements and empty entertainment.

The classic scripture Tao Te Ching (ca. 300-500 B.C.) is an inspiration to me within the area of life philosophy, my favourite translation being Stephen Mitchell’s version. You may find it as an PDF or on YouTube: Stephen Mitchell PDF, Stephen Mitchell YouTube.

I have found inspiration of a related kind in the book “The Importance of Living” by the philosopher and author Lin Yutang who lived in China and USA in the first half of the twentieth century.

Quotes by Lin Yutang may be found on the web.

However, sometimes we need to find inspiration for strength. The poem “Terje Vigen” might be a source for such inspiration.

But above all we need to fight the tendencies of self-importance and self-centeredness and rather keep up a healthy laughter at ourselves, the world and it all.