Being Less Intimidated By Powerful People - Deepstash

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Six Ideas from Western Philosophy

Being Less Intimidated By Powerful People

Being Less Intimidated By Powerful People

‘Kings and Philosophers shit, and so do ladies’. This is a blunt phrase of 16th-century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne.

He wanted to let us feel closer to and less intimidated by people whose life might seem very impressive. Montaigne attempted to free us from uncertainty and shyness from thinking too much of others and too little of ourselves.

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The maximalist philosophy of reading
The maximalist philosophy of reading

The modern world equates the intelligent person will the well-read person. It's difficult to think of anyone arriving at any worthy insights without having read an impressive number of books.

But despite the pressure to read through multiple awarded and fascinating books, we might pause and reflect on an interesting aspect of the pre-modern world: Reading was important, but it never put people under any pressure to read very much at all. It was more important to read a few books very well and not waste time on a great number of volumes.

Reading in the premodern world

The premodern world was obsessed with asking, "what is the point is of reading?" They had answers too.

  • For example, the value for Christians and Muslims was holding up one book - the Bible or the Koran - as more important than anything else. This book was read repeatedly and with great attention.
  • In the Ancient Greek world, one focused on just two books: Homer's Odyssey and his Iliad. These were all that was needed to impart the Greek code of honour and the best guides to action in military and civilian affairs.
  • In the 18th century England, the ideal of reading was focused on Virgil's Aeneid - all a gentleman required to pass as cultivated. More reading was viewed as eccentric.
Why the modern world read so much

The modern world has adopted an Enlightenment mantra that states there should be no limit to how much we read because we read in order to know everything. We don't read to understand God or to follow civic virtue; we read to understand the whole of human existence.

This maximalist legacy of the Enlightenment idea of reading is present within the publishing industry, within the way books are presented to the public at school and in shops, and within our own guilty responses to the pressure to read more.

The Perfect Partner
The Perfect Partner

We expect our partner to be perfect in every way. As we spend our life with our partner, we seem to mistakenly believe that the other person will have everything in common with us and will think the same thought that is occurring in our head, at the same time.

If we have unrealistic and comical expectations from our partners, getting irritated at every minor flaw, and having a lofty, movie-like idea of what a relationship is, we won't be happy no matter who we are with.

Essential Things To Look For In a Partner

Instead of making relationships complicated and overambitious, we can just take care of these three essential but overlooked aspects:

  1. Kindness: A person who is humane and kind, gentle and not too serious.
  2. Shared Vulnerability: A person who is a good, empathetic listener, and makes us open comfortably about our anxieties, problems and worries.
  3. Understanding: Someone who has a deep understanding of our traits, quirks, features, obsessions, and the way we see the world. Someone who is interesting enough for us to want to understand.
A Simpler Life

Paradoxically, by limiting our expectations about our relationship, we can concentrate on the three critical ingredients of kindness, understanding and vulnerability, and have a simple yet loving connection.

By simplifying and clarifying, we can release ourselves from our complicated conflicts and pursue a deep and profound bond.