Enivrez-Vous by Charles Baudelaire
Il faut être toujours ivre, tout est là ; c’est l’unique question. Pour ne pas sentir l’horrible fardeau du temps qui brise vos épaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans trêve.
Mais de quoi? De vin, de poésie, ou de vertu à votre guise, mais enivrez-vous!
Et si quelquefois, sur les marches d’un palais, sur l’herbe verte d’un fossé, vous vous réveillez, l’ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue, demandez au vent, à la vague, à l’étoile, à l’oiseau, à l’horloge; à tout ce qui fuit, à tout ce qui gémit, à tout ce qui roule, à tout ce qui chante, à tout ce qui parle, demandez quelle heure il est. Et le vent, la vague, l’étoile, l’oiseau, l’horloge, vous répondront, il est l’heure de s’enivrer ; pour ne pas être les esclaves martyrisés du temps, enivrez-vous, enivrez-vous sans cesse de vin, de poésie, de vertu, à votre guise.
This is one of my favourite poems. Below is the English translation. I think there are some interesting thoughts we can take from it.
12 things we should all be doing more of. Please do read the full article! ^
- Express gratitude.
- Cultivate optimism.
- Avoid over-thinking and social comparison.
- Practice acts of kindness.
- Nurture social relationships.
- Develop strategies for coping.
- Learn to forgive.
- Increase flow experiences.
- Savor life’s joys.
- Commit to your goals.
- Practice spirituality.
- Take care of your body.
I wrote this a few weeks ago when the idea struck me. Excuse the messy writing style! It was late and I just wanted to get my thoughts out. Let me know what you think!
Time Does Not Exist
There is no such thing as the past, and no such thing as the future. It doesn’t (actually) exist, until it is happening, so the only thing that ever exists is the present.
All that we have of the past are our memories, those moments no longer exist, and the memories we have left of them are actually surprisingly bad and inaccurate. Can you even remember every single minute of today? Didn’t think so, that shows us how bad our memory actually is! Although we feel like we have a full and objective memory of our past, when we actually try to look back we realise that this isn’t so. We only have blurry snippets of memories, and even these are subject to biases depending on our present mood/needs/desires. Everyone sees the same event from an entirely different perspective, so who has the correct perspective? The answer is that there isn’t one. The event was the event while it was happening, that was the true moment, once it is converted into human memory it becomes simply that, a flawed human memory.
In the same way, we only have hopes, plans and ideas of the future. So that doesn’t exist either, it’s in our imagination, and our human belief that we have significant control over our future probably more an illusion than a reality. It’s only defence mechanisms making us feel as though we have control over our life. In reality we are subject to a lot more chance than we may find comfortable to believe. For example, everyone believes that bad things are significantly less likely to happen to them. How could this, statistically, be true?
We can’t control the driver in the car in front of us, nor the one behind. We can only control our own actions, and in the grand scheme of things this is exceedingly little. We have full control over only one, in the more than seven billion human beings on this earth. So why do we feel like our future is more or less to our making? As social animals everything we do has direct and indirect consequences on everyone around us, we are not sole operators that can predict what will happen next. Instead, we are a fluid group of interconnected beings each dependent on one another, with each action rippling onto others and influencing their ripples and so on.
So our ideas and plans for the future are just images in our (flawed) human minds anyway so why should we place too much value on them? There is no use.
I’m not saying it’s bad to think about the future, but it is best to do so only when it means that we do something positive in our present. The future should never be a hinderance, only an approach motivation, on our present actions. It doesn’t have enough credibility, or worth, for us to justify missing out on something because of it! It does not exist! Only use the future as a goal to strive towards. Do not think of it as a closed door. Remember that it is an illusion that can and will be adapted by everything that happens in your present. Use this flexibility to your advantage and both your present and future will benefit.
TIME DOES NOT EXIST
Finally, and importantly, we don’t know how much time we have here. We may think and hope that we will grow older, have children, watch our children have children, but really we can never be definitely sure of anything that is in the future.
Don’t treat time as a resource that is yours, time doesn’t exist. Don’t think ‘It’s okay because at some point in the next 10 years I’ll make sure I get round to doing that’. Who says the next 10 years are yours for the taking? Why do we have this false security that we possess time and can do with it what we like? The only thing we have for certain is the present, because we are conscious and experiencing it first hand.
Every moment of the present is given to us, as a gift, (not by a greater being in my opinion), but perhaps thinking of it as a gift is the best way to do so.
For some reason unknown to us, we experience this amazing thing called life, and life is us, in the present. This is all we have, and all we ever have. I used the word ‘us’ because we must remember that we are a collective. Everyone alive at the same time as you has an influence on your life somehow, even those who have died hundreds of years before you have influenced your present moment, so it is important to not forget about others when you think about how to spend your present, your life.
To end, my main point is this – the most important thing is how we live our life in the present.
We need to try our hardest every single moment to be doing something, or at least thinking in a way, that we would not regret if it turns out that the next ten minutes were the last ten minutes of our life.
We need to use our present to the full, it is all we have. Why spend it doing something that does not bring value to either ourselves or the people around us, or even better both?
We shouldn’t ruminate back on the past, because we aren’t there anymore. And we shouldn’t dwell on ideas of the future too much either. The way we act in the present will determine our future, so for the most positive outcomes, we need to start by having the most positive, productive, and beneficial ‘present moments’.
Above is the article where I got the following information from, but here is a short summary…
Psychology professor David T. Lykken argues that each human has a happiness ‘set point’ which is what I initially believed while studying psychology at university. I believed that some people are happy, others are not, and it doesn’t really matter what external situations they have (to a degree).
However, Lykken also points out that although resistant to change, it is possible to change your happiness set point (which is what I’m trying to do). He says it is possible to thwart negative emotions such as pessimism, resentment and anger, and to foster positive emotions such as empathy, gratitude and serenity.
1. Don’t worry, choose happy
– Make a conscious effort to choose to feel happy. Think of things that make you happy, surround yourself with people and situations in which you feel happy. Make the effort.
2. Cultivate Gratitude
– Remind yourself of things you feel grateful for
3. Foster Forgiveness
– the opposite of forgiveness is dwelling on the transgression. Nothing positive ever came from dwelling on negative aspects of the past. It no longer exists, it is part of the past, so let it go.
4. Counteract Negative Thoughts and Feelings
– Our unconscious thoughts and feelings are difficult to control, but that doesn’t mean impossible to control. What creates your feelings? Your thoughts. And who controls your thoughts? You, and you alone. When you remember that your thoughts are entirely yours, and only thoughts (they don’t really exist), you will learn to treat them less seriously. Once you’ve done this you can disregard the negative thoughts and create and focus on the positive ones.
5. Remember, Money can’t buy Happiness
– Research has found that once income is above the poverty level, increases in wealth does little to increase happiness. There will always be someone richer than you, so comparing yourself to others and aspiring to their level will not bring happiness even when you reach it!
6. Foster Friendship
– Surround yourself with people who care about you, their positivity towards you will rub off and make you feel better when you’re feeling down.
7. Engage in Meaningful Activities
– Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says people are seldom happier than when they’re in the “flow.” This is a state in which your mind becomes thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities. This is similar to the state of ‘Mindfulness’ which is concentrating on the present moment (more about mindfulness and its benefits in a future post!)
Just stumbled upon this quote by the philosopher Bertrand Russell…
He said in his book The Conquest of Happiness, published in 1930 – “Happiness is not, except in very rare cases, something that drops into the mouth, like a ripe fruit. … Happiness must be, for most men and women, an achievement rather than a gift of the gods, and in this achievement, effort, both inward and outward, must play a great part.”
It pretty much sums up my aim of this blog, to discover how to achieve happiness, as something that we can control and create.
Will read the book as soon as I can get my hands on it!