Lessons from Kierkegaard

Life Lessons from Kierkegaard

Back in January I thought it would be easy to smash through this 98-page guide on Life Lessons from Kierkegaard by Robert Ferguson for The School of Life.

It wasn’t.

I actually found it incredibly hard to follow and I loved that because it made it more of a challenge. The Kierkegaard excerpts were the tough bits. And Ferguson makes people like me understand a tenth of it.

Despite this, I did take some thoughts from it.

  • How to wake up
    • Am I on autopilot right now?
    • Am I living an aesthetic (in the moment), ethical (focused on myself as a goal) or religious (no idea) life?
  • How to see through things
    • With all the Instagram accounts and Real Housewives of Springfield episodes, am I losing sight of what’s real and what’s fictional?
  • How to avoid living in the past
    • Am I falling asleep each time I create comfort in a memory from a past experience?
    • Should I try to create happiness in a new way in each moment?
  • Why we should cultivate dissatisfaction
    • From Diapsalmata, “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought, which they seldom use”. This might be the most frightening thought itself. Not sure whether my thoughts should be unfiltered or what that means.
  • On not thinking too much
    • When I justify not doing something I know I should do, this is a result of thinking too much. Almost happened last week for the gym session on Monday. I wrote my colleague two emails about not joining him. But I hit delete before sending both emails. What a waste of time and thoughts. In the spirit of our favourite sportswear company we love to hate, “Just do it”. And don’t think too much.
  • When to say nothing
    • This was my favourite lesson. As I have too much noise in my life. The TV is usually on. I’m always listening to music. I’m constantly distracted by Instagram and Facebook feeds full of absolutely valueless content. I also talk too much. I share too much. I don’t take enough time to process. I don’t meditate. I’m a bad listener.
    • Kierkegaard: when “silence rests over the land, and from some far meadow you hear the lowing of cattle, or from a distant farmer’s house the homely bark of a dog”.
  • How to deal with despair
    • Being truthful about life’s potential for awfulness is the first precondition for enjoying life.
    • Is it harder to praise or complain about life? In the past, I would have said praise. Now I would say it is harder to complain about it. There are things that could be better, but there is so much more to praise than complain about.
    • There’s a great School of Life video titled Should We Laugh Or Should We Cry? and it covers the philospher Democritus. Very relevant to these thoughts. Too bad Democritus didn’t extend his thoughts to women or slaves at the time.
  • How to think about death
    • Kierkegaard urges us to hear the quiet background hum of death throughout our days. Not for it to spoil them. To enrich them. And remember to to waste them as they are not endless. No promise of tomorrow.

Marie Kondo says

Marie Kondo's book: The life-changing magic of tidying

Back a month or so I finished reading Marie Kondo’s The life-changing magic of tidying, and ever since I’ve been walking around starting statements with “Marie Kondo says” (to the disappointment of others).

I can’t help it. I read something. I become a fanatic.

The secret to Marie Kondo is just getting rid of stuff that doesn’t spark joy in your life (and yes, I have a second Marie Kondo book to read too – Spark Joy). I have a lot of that.

The first step is to discard, then to tidy by category and the store your things. And you have to do it category at a time. You also have to do it right (tidying is not a family occasion, it can take months, and you should do it at the beginning of the day and at the start of the process, not sprinkled here and there). You shouldn’t have to tidy every day. Because once you go through the process and everything you have is in the right place, it all goes back there after it is used.

The category order is very important:

  • Clothing: tops, bottoms, clothes for hanging, socks, underwear, handbags (or for me canvas bags), accessories, special events clothes, shoes
  • Books: general (sorry KonMari, you are going to another home even though you suggest against passing our stuff onto others), practical (all the cookbooks), visual (some of the cookbooks!), magazines (hey baby, I’m keeping ALL my Monocle magazines and papers)
  • Papers: this one will be interesting because I keep every single paper I come by (eek); goodbye medical records, goodbye whitepapers from seven months/years ago; and I will find a home for the white goods, sorry Marie!
  • Miscellaneous 1: CDs, DVDs, skincare, make-up, accessories, valuables, electrical equipment and appliances (digital cords, digital cameras, anything electric), household equipment (stationery, sewing, writing), household supplies (medicine, detergents, tissues – oh yeah, I have tissues), kitchen goods/food supplies (happy to say, I have very little to worry about here except for some tahini that should have never been brought/bought into our lives)
  • Miscellaneous 2: things you keep just because (gifts, mobile phone packaging, spare buttons, skincare samples… tick, tick, tick)
  • Sentimentals: I guess for me its just stuff that I might have that is sentimental. If I can keep it to a single shoe box that would be great. I have a sketch from when I was a baby (one I did, one dad did, another one, and another)
  • Photos – live in the now!

I’ve started with a few items since I read the book. But now, I’m designated May “Marie Kondo May”.