4 Life Lessons From Ancient Philosophers That Can Help You Today

From the gym to the office, their tips stand the test of time.

Shanshan0312/ Shutterstock
Shanshan0312/ Shutterstock

Our day to day is filled with times of crisis that affect all areas of our lives, both private and professional. How do we cope with them? What if we were helped by philosophers? This is how the idea of ​​my books came about: twelve crisis situations and twelve philosophers capable of appeasing us and helping us to dedramatize. I’m interested in all those moments that slip away from us, those minutes of chaos, those moments that leave us in tears, feeling  angry, guilty and incomprehension in short — at a complete loss. To respond to these experiences, it can be helpful to look at life lessons from ancient philosophers. Their messages stand the test of time. 

Here are four lessons we can learn from their ancient wisdom:


“I am overworked.”

The problem: You are exhausted by your overwhelming workflow. You have one appointment after another, and you have no time for anything. You are never at home and you feel like you’re missing out on life.

Montaigne’s solution: The philosopher suggests to “live appropriately.” This does not mean that you have to slow down or accelerate even more, but rather that you have to find your own tempo. At what pace do you feel good? Take the time to listen to yourself and determine your priorities. Some files can wait and are less urgent than you think. It is by living at our own pace that we become more efficient!


I have just separated from my partner.”

The problem: You were very in love. Nothing was more important than your love story. You were totally taken over by passion. But suddenly, when you thought everything was fine, you get dumped. You are inconsolable.

Kant’s solution: It’s never easy to break up with someone. A love story that ends is always sad. But you must take the opportunity to review your life. Kant advises us to come to our senses and think with our heads, rather than our hearts, so that we will suffer less. Ask yourself if this relationship was really fulfilling, if you could make plans for the future calmly with your partner … etc. Write down specific items in a notebook. You will quickly realize that some things weren’t right and that it is better to be separated. You learn to differentiate between false, unhealthy, and ephemeral passion, and true love, that is to say, the construction of a reasoned and lasting relationship. A new life, more in harmony with yourself, is waiting for you! This the word of Kant!


I’m afraid to get back into a sport.”

The problem: You desperately want to take up a sport again, and to get back into shape, but you are afraid of feeling lousy. As a result, you do nothing. You stay on your couch and feel guilty because you feel stagnant in all areas.

Nietzsche’s solution: This philosopher is a real motivational coach. Set a challenge that is greater than yourself! Not a small quiet restart, but a real challenge worthy of champions! For Nietzsche, each individual has an energy in them that acts as a motor, pushing us further and further. This is what he calls the will to power. But it only manifests itself when a real effort is made. To face hardship, and to be part of the action, is to affirm this power, and above all, it is to feel alive. So, let us not retreat in the face of difficulties, for they make us move forward.


“I can’t manage to switch off”

The problem: You have trouble being happy because you feel stressed all the time. You spend all your time on your phone checking social media, replying to emails, reading harrowing news… etc. You are constantly connected and you feel that this has an impact on your morale and therefore on your happiness!

Epicurus’ solution: According to Epicurus, happiness is to have no bodily pain, nor troubles of the soul, and nothing more! The problem is that in our modern life, it is not easy to reach this state unless… we learn to cut off! Hyper-communication creates fears that have no foundation, since we can have no effect on them. Knowing how to distance yourself and especially how to put your phone down is to give yourself the opportunity to be fully aware of the luxury of being alive. Let’s refocus on our real needs.

Ancient philosophy is not an abstract, pretentious and arduous theory, but wisdom that makes us feel good, and that resonates year after year. It serves to improve our lives, our well-being, and our happiness. Taking philosophy off of its pedestal is to pay tribute to it, and to make this precious knowledge become familiar, so that when the next crisis arises, instead of panicking, we turn to Aristotle, Plato or Kant!

Excerpt from When You Kant Figure It Out, Ask a Philosopher by Marie Robert

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