Existential Stoic Podcast, dobetterwithdan, self help, Motivation, Quick Fix, how to
with Danny & Randy

Danny and Randy discuss tips for how to stop deluding yourself.

Stop making excuses, stop lying to yourself, and start living a life that is right for you.

The Existential Stoic Podcast – Quick Fix 164 – How to Stop Deluding Yourself – Available wherever you get your podcasts!

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Want to discover more? Please check out my related articles: Discovering Small Delights, Our Relationship to Suffering, Comparisons & Mistakes We Make, Defining a Life Project, Meditation & Balance, The Only Proof of Strength, What is Virtue?, A Formula for Happiness, and The Authentic Life.

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Existential, modern stoicism, podcast, self help, mental health, integrity
with Danny & Randy

How often are you truly honest with yourself? When, if ever, are lies and deception justified?

In this episode, Danny and Randy discuss the problems with honesty…

The Existential Stoic Podcast – Episode 163 – The Problems with Honesty

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Want to discover more? Please check out these related posts & articles: Reducing Friction, How to Fail Forward, Creating a New Narrative, Within Our Control, Meditation & Balance, The Only Proof of Strength, How to Learn from Others, Is Success Dangerous?, and Daodejing by Laozi

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dobetterwithdan, Nietzsche, philosophy, perspective

The Eternal Recurrence

Nietzsche introduces the eternal recurrence in The Gay Science. It is introduced as a thought experiment. He asks you, the reader, to imagine What if

“What if some day or night a demon were to steal into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it you will have to live once again and innumerable times again; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unspeakably small or great in your life must return to you.'”

Nietzsche

What if the “eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again” (Nietzsche)? How would you respond to the demon who, on some day or night, steals into your “loneliest loneliness” only to make you aware of the eternal repetition of your life?

When Nietzsche introduces the eternal recurrence, he titles section 341 in which it is introduced The heaviest weight. Why is this hypothetical What if scenario the heaviest weight?

When Nietzsche introduces the eternal recurrence, he encourages you, the reader, to reflect on your life, on the way you have lived your life. Have you lived your own life? Have you lived a life you could stand to live again and again, over and over…innumerable times?

The idea of the eternal recurrence makes living life the crucial thing. If this life, the one you live in the present, repeats eternally, then there is no otherworld or afterlife that you transition to after this life ends…because it doesn’t end. This is all there is, this life, again and again.

“and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unspeakably small or great in your life must return to you.”

Nietzsche

Perhaps Nietzsche could have produced the same reaction in the reader if the demon informed you that there is nothing after this life, that you have only this one chance to live your own life. But, then, that doesn’t seem to carry the same weight as imagining this same life, your life, repeating an infinite number of times.  

After the demon makes you aware of life’s eternal repetition—that the same play is performed again and again with all the same characters, scenes, and dialogue—Nietzsche imagines two reactions to this news.

In the first case, you, the reader, are crushed when you learn that you must live this life again and again.

“Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?”

Nietzsche

In the second case, you, the reader, rejoice, you praise the demon as a god because you could not imagine anything better than knowledge that this life, your life, repeats again and again in the exact same way.

“Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine.'”

Nietzsche

The Takeaway – Authenticity and Affirmation

“Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to long for nothing more fervently than for this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?”

Nietzsche

With the thought experiment of the eternal recurrence, Nietzsche asks you to seriously reflect on your life. What if every choice, every thought, every action, every sigh had to be repeated again and again? Would you be able to bear such knowledge?

How many of us can honestly say that we would respond with joy upon learning of the eternal recurrence? Would we start to think about our life, ourselves, differently?

No matter how many times I read this section of The Gay Science, I am always struct by the line—“Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life…” How well indeed!

This thought experiment forces us to take seriously, if only for a moment, what it means to live our own life. It forces us to ask ourselves whether the life we live is our own, whether we are living authentically.

If you are living life for someone else, if you are unhappy, unmotivated, or if you live a life of conformity, it seems that such knowledge would be overwhelming. But perhaps with such knowledge you would start thinking differently, you would start taking your life, your agency, seriously. If that is the case, then the thought experiment has done its job.

When Nietzsche introduces the eternal recurrence, he wants you to seriously and honestly reflect on what it means to live your own life. When you realize that this life is your own, that only you can live it, you realize that the only thing that matters is whether you yourself can affirm it.

It doesn’t matter what society thinks, what your group or community thinks. No, to truly affirm the eternal recurrence is to live a life that is one’s own and no one else’s, it is to live on one’s own terms and no one else’s.

How would you respond?

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe, like, and share.

Please check out these related articles: The Authentic Life, The World We Create, Accepting Death, Defining a Life Project, Perspective – in pursuit of truth, What is Strength of Will?, Freedom & Responsibility, What we can learn living underground, Multiple Causation, Kafka’s Parable Before the Law, Belief as a Noble Risk, A Choice – Kafka & Agency, Note to Self, and Understanding Our Relationship to Suffering.

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Philosophy - Strength, Truth, Character

Truths and Lies

“How much truth can a spirit tolerate, how much truth is it willing to risk?”

Nietzsche

When was the last time you lied to yourself? When was the last time you manipulated the truth, twisted it, sugarcoated it to make a situation or circumstance bearable, to make yourself comfortable?

(Check out my related article, Is Life Absurd? – Camus and Authenticity.)

Many of us lie to ourselves in some capacity on a fairly regular basis. It’s common to hide behind the covers of a false narrative when we don’t want to face our responsibility or hold ourselves accountable. We manipulate the truth, we downplay our choice, our freedom to act and think as we choose, and find something to blame to make the situation tolerable—to make ourselves tolerable.

We tell ourselves we’ll be happy when we get X (some accomplishment or goal) and focus on the end rather than facing ourselves. When we get what we sought and are still unhappy, we blame circumstances, other people, and the ‘system’ we find ourselves in rather than hold ourselves accountable or responsible.

Too afraid to be who we really are, we convince ourselves that we actually are the person we see in the mirror. We pretend that we know the face under the mask we wear. Our fear of change, of being on our own, causes us to conform and hide from ourselves in the group.

We make ourselves into victims and rationalize our inability to change, to become who we really are. We complain about the world, about our situation, and hidden in our complaints are subtle and not-so-subtle rationalizations protecting us, comforting us and making us feel better.

“Complaining never does any good: it comes from weakness. Whether you attribute your bad situation to other people or to yourself…it does not really make any difference. What is common to both…is that somebody is supposedly to blame for your suffering.”

Nietzsche

Strength, Honesty, and Authenticity

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote often about the connection between strength of spirit or will and the ability of the individual to tolerate truth.

(Please see my related article, The Death of God – Nietzsche and Nihilism.)

Nietzsche thought that those who are weak seek explanations for their suffering that remove all blame from themselves. They hide from their freedom, they underestimate their ability to decide how to live their own life, and instead find ways to make their inaction, their weakness, tolerable.

“The strength of a person’s spirit would then be measured by how much truth he could tolerate, or more precisely, to what extent he needs to have it diluted, disguised, sweetened, muted, falsified.”

Nietzsche

I always found the connection between strength and the ability to tolerate truth fascinating. It makes sense—if we want to be ourselves, to realize our full potential, we must face ourselves, face the truth, and start taking responsibility for ourselves.

Freedom & Responsibility

Nietzsche thought we are free when we take control of our lives and are responsible for who we are, for our thoughts and actions. This is your life and only you can live it. (For more, see my article on Freedom and Responsibility here.)

“What is freedom anyway? Having the will to be responsible for yourself.”

Nietzsche

To be strong we need to be honest with ourselves. The only way to start accepting ourselves and confronting our fears is to be honest with ourselves about who we are, about what we want and need, what we cover up and hide…in short, we need to face ourselves first.

We need to be honest about the lies we tell ourselves, about which truths we fear the most.

“For I regard nothing more precious and rare today than honesty.”

Nietzsche

We must be honest with ourselves if we want to live an authentic life. It is only through honesty that we will discover who we are. We will never live a life that is right for us, that is our own, if we continue to lie to ourselves. We need to develop the strength to be responsible for ourselves, to hold ourselves accountable and realize that what we do and think establishes who we are.

“When it comes to spiritual matters, you need to be honest to the point of hardness.”

Nietzsche

Nietzsche understood how difficult it is to live authentically. It is not easy to stand on your own, to take full responsibility for yourself and always be honest.

In the end, this life is yours and yours alone. It’s never too late to start living your own life. So ask yourself: When was the last time you lied to yourself?

Do you think honesty is a sign of strength?

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe, like, and share this article.

Interested in exploring these ideas further? See my related articles on The Most Important Question, Happiness and Authenticity, Curiosity and the Wisdom of Socrates, Are You on the Right Path?, How to Set Goals and Stop Lying to Yourself, Thinking for Yourself, To Exist Beyond Good & Evil, The Eternal Recurrence & Authenticity, Note to Self, and The Importance of Exploration and Experimentation.

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Nietzsche, quote

“No one can build for you the bridge upon which you alone must cross the stream of life, no one but you alone.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

No one can solve your problems for you, because no one but you can live your life. Nietzsche reminds us that we must take responsibility for ourselves.

“No one can build for you the bridge” – no one can solve the problem of living for you…In the end, we are each of us accountable for the life we are living.

Build your own bridge and take control of your life.

Thanks for reading! Please like and share this post.

For more on this topic, these related articles and post: Freedom & Responsibility, Happiness and Authenticity – (Part 3) The Authentic Individual, What is Strength of Will? – Nietzsche on Honesty and Authenticity, The Importance of Exploration and Experimentation, How to Stop Lying to Yourself – Creating Clear Goals, and Are You on the Right Path? – How to Live Your Best Life.

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Nietzsche, Philosophy, dobetterwithdan

“To create new values—that even the lion cannot do; but the creation of freedom for oneself for new creation—that is within the power of the lion….a sacred ‘No’ even to duty.”

– Nietzsche

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the connection between happiness and personal authenticity. A happy life is our own life.

I explore Friedrich Nietzsche’s notion of the free spirit to get a better understanding of what is required to live authentically. For Nietzsche, the free spirit is a sort of steppingstone on the path of one’s development that leads to the possibility of self-creation, self-exploration, and personal authenticity.

This exploration will be completed in three parts. Today, in Part 3, we look at Nietzsche’s conception of the Übermensch and personal authenticity.

(If you missed them, please check out Part 1 – The Bound Spirit, here, and Part 2 – The Free Spirit, here.)

The bound spirit and the free spirit

The bound spirit is bound in the sense that he is unable to realize himself, to fully express himself, because he is restricted by the norms and values of society.

He does not create his own perspective that is unique to him and would make possible his full development, but tries instead to make himself fit whatever perspective dominates. This causes internal turmoil, struggle, and suffering. His fetters make him unable to engage in any real self-exploration and therefore inhibit any (positive) personal development or growth.

For Nietzsche, the cultivation of an open-mind and the willingness to try out new perspectives is an essential part of personal development and growth.

The individual who becomes free becomes, in a sense, the author of his own life. He is freed from the constraints of conformity and is able to truly engage in a process of self-exploration and self-discovery.

(See my article, The Importance of Exploration and Experimentation)

If the individual is able to remain free and resist the desire to return to the norm, to the comfort of conformity, he can begin the process of creating himself. This self-creation will (ideally) make possible the realization of his full potential and full self-expression.  (For more, please see my article, The Individual Versus the Collective, here.)

The Authentic Individual

“Creation—that is the great redemption from suffering, and life’s growing light. But that the creator may be, suffering is needed and much change. Indeed, there must be much bitter dying in your life, you creators. Thus are you advocates and justifiers of all impermanence.”

– Nietzsche

The free spirit can be thought of as a stage in one’s development when self-creation and personal authenticity become real possibilities. As Nietzsche saw it, you must clear away the old to make way for the new. All creation requires destruction.

We must destroy our old selves, so to say, to truly rebuild ourselves and fashion ourselves in a way that is unique to us. In the process of rebuilding ourselves from the ground up we learn who we really are. This process of self-creation and self-overcoming is essential to living authentically.

“Indeed, there must be much bitter dying in your life, you creators.”

Nietzsche

The free spirit says ‘No’ to the rule, to conformity, and in doing so begins thinking for himself.  Nietzsche thought that once we free ourselves, it becomes possible for us to determine our own self-worth and value rather than relying on outside/external conditions to determine them for us.

(Please see my related article, The Death of God – Nietzsche and Nihilism.)

Nietzsche argued that in each of us there exists a multitude of conflicting drives and impulses, all of which want, as it were, to be actualized and expressed. While we might commonly refer to some of these drives or instincts as “good” and others as “bad” or “evil,” in the end each one is a part of who we are

If we don’t find ways to express our drives outwardly, if we are unable to express ourselves in the world, then this energy is turned inwards. Nietzsche called this internalization – the cause of “bad conscience” – which makes the individual acutely aware of his lack of power, his impotence, and unchecked it gives birth to ressentiment.

The freedom of the free spirit is the first step in freeing ourselves from the internal conflict and struggle (e.g., self-doubt, jealousy, guilt, etc.) that we normally face when we are unable to actualize or express all our drives, when our full self-expression is inhibited.

Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch (or Overman or the authentic individual) represents a higher-type, and is one who finds and is capable of finding ways to express and actualize all his drives. Through such full self-expression, the overman is one who can live authentically.

One thing is needful.—To ‘give style’ to one’s character—a great and rare art!…those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye.”

– Nietzsche

Creating and cultivating oneself—giving style to one’s character—does not mean simply acting on every instinct and drive one might have.  If that were the case, Nietzsche’s view would result in disunity and thus in a lack of style.

As I see it, Nietzsche’s notion of giving “style” to one’s character means finding ways to express all of one’s drives and instincts, either directly or indirectly, so that none are internalized.  Doing so requires an acute awareness of oneself, of one’s strengths and weaknesses, so one can find ways to express and actualize drives in accordance with the authentic individual one is. 

(For more information, see my articles on Giving Style to One’s Character, here, and The Most Important Question, here.)

In other words, the authentic individual or Übermensch is one who can transform or redirect certain drives and instincts so that otherwise inexpressible drives can be actualized and one’s power can be realized.  

The authentic individual therefore expresses his creative powers in his cultivation of a unified self.  The process of self-cultivation and creation requires him to take responsibility for himself and his actions.

(To learn more, see my article, Freedom & Responsibility, here.)

The authentic individual knows who he is and does not deny any part of himself – He is the author of his own life.

“If we are bound to have weaknesses…then I would wish that everyone had at any rate sufficient artistic power to set off his weaknesses against his virtues and through his weaknesses make us desire his virtues.”

– Nietzsche

Nietzsche highlights the importance of striving to express, rather than deny, our natures. Humans are not uniform rational agents but unique individuals, and as such each one of us must find ways to express our full set of instincts and drives—to become who we truly are.

If Nietzsche is not suggesting that we live alone—social organization offers many (obvious) benefits—then his view implies a need to live differently and in a way that cultivates our individuality.  

(See my related article, Understanding Our Relationship To Suffering)

Authenticity and Affirmation

The authentic individual, in Nietzsche’s view, is one who can affirm life because he affirms himself. This means he knows who he is and takes full responsibility for himself and for the person he becomes.

As one who can affirm and accept himself, the authentic individual is one who can affirm and accept the moment.

“I want to learn more and more how to see what is necessary in things as what is beautiful in them – thus I will be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love from now on!…some day I want only to be a Yes-sayer!”

– Nietzsche

“Amor fati” means love of one’s fate. When Nietzsche envisions an authentic individual, he imagines an individual who loves himself, affirms life, and who can love his fate.

“Amor fati” suggests living in such a way that we can accept the entirety of our past because it was necessary for us to be who we are now. It suggests a comfort with oneself and a deep understanding of oneself. More importantly, such affirmation is clearly connected to happiness.

One says “Yes!” to life because one lives in such a way that full self-expression is possible. One can be happy, because one is truly living one’s own life—taking full responsibility, full ownership for every part of oneself and for the person one becomes.

A close connection exists between happiness and personal authenticity because a happy life must be our own life. The authentic individual, Nietzsche argues, truly lives his own life and affirms himself.

“some day I want only to be a Yes-sayer!”

Nietzsche

If you are interested in these topics and wish to explore Nietzsche’s philosophy further, I recommend starting with two of Nietzsche works, namely: (1) Human, all too Human and (2) The Gay [or Joyous] Science.

Please leave a comment if you have questions.

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe, like, and share.

Want to discover more? Please check out these related articles and posts: What is Strength of Will? – Nietzsche on Honesty and Authenticity, What We can Learn Living Underground, Thinking for Yourself – Checking in with Camus, The Existential Lifestyle – How to Incorporate Existentialism into Your Life, The Eternal Recurrence, To Exist Beyond Good & Evil, Authenticity & the Outsider, The Habit of Thinking, and Developing a Positive Mindset.

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We hold ourselves back when we lack a specific, well-defined standard for evaluating success.

dobetterwithdan, goal, planning, clear goal

We often struggle to make progress toward our goals when we lack a clear way to evaluate our success. We leave ourselves too much room to make excuses and/or misrepresent the progress we have made when we are not specific about what we aim to achieve. We tell ourselves we are making progress to make ourselves feel better, even though we have failed to accomplish what we set out to do.

We hold ourselves back when we lack a specific, well-defined standard for evaluating success. We end up frustrated by our slow progress, and, ultimately, we abandon those projects that would improve our lives.

How, then, can we stop lying to ourselves and create clear goals?

(See my related article, How to Face Your Fears – 6 Simple Steps to Realize Your Goals)

How to Establish Clear Goals

Establishing a clear standard for evaluating your success will help you focus, make consistent progress, identify problem areas, and achieve your goal.

I recommend using a journal to write out your specific goal, your plan for making it happen, and your evaluation of your ongoing progress.

  • Establish your goal. What is your goal and what does success look like? Be specific and set a realistic goal. For instance, if you want to get in shape, your goal might be expressed in terms of a target weight or a set time commitment (1 year). If you want to write, your goal might be expressed in terms of a final project (a novel, a screenplay, or an article) and tentative deadline. It is important that your goal is attainable and that it is defined in a way that allows you to clearly measure your success.
  • Plan how you will achieve your goal. What actions can you take to reach your overall goal? When you plan, it is important that you specify individual achievements that are measurable, that are relevant for achieving your goal, and that hold you to specific time constraints. For example, if your goal is to get in shape, you can set up a weekly schedule that establishes specific time commitments and days on/days off. If your goal is to write a novel, you can establish daily and weekly/bi-weekly writing goals (1,000 words a day and one chapter every two weeks). It is crucial to make your plan realistic and attainable. Your early successes will help motivate you to aim higher as you develop a routine and make progress.
  • Evaluate your progress. Once you have a plan, you need to evaluate your ongoing progress. At the end of each day, write down what you have accomplished. Did you do what you set out to? If not, why not? Evaluating your ongoing progress will help you become more aware of what is holding you back. Honest self-assessment is key to self-development and self-improvement.

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe, like, and share.

Check out my related articles and posts: Kafka Before the Law, Developing a Positive Mindset – Discovering Small Delights, Are You Distracted – How to Limit Smartphone Use, The Importance of Exploration and Experimentation, What is Strength of Will? – Nietzsche, Honesty, and Authenticity, Philosophy Teaches Us, Epicurus on Pleasure and Desire, and How to Change Your Thinking – Change Yourself.

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