A Happiness Handbook

Friedrich Nietzsche, a philosopher, believed that all worthwhile gains in life derive from the experience of overcoming adversity. He believed that life was meaningless and miserable without pain. Pain and misery, he believes, are essential evils in a person’s life. For a person to live a satisfying life, he must face and resolve adversity. I agree with his assessment that a life of ease and comfort is meaningless. Only by going through hardship can a person recognize his accomplishments. The only way to achieve success is to conquer adversity. There are very few accomplished people who have achieved their degree of achievement without having to overcome obstacles in their endeavors. Alain de Botton explains that there is no straight path to the top. You have to endure the challenge of climbing the mountain to enjoy the magnificent view. He illustrates this by interviewing a ballerina who attests that there is no gain without the pain. She states that she experiences difficulties as a professional dancer, but the satisfaction at the end of a performance is worth the pain she had to undergo while practicing. Nietzsche’s life is also an indication that anything valuable is acquired through pain. He suffered from illness, loneliness, poverty, a failed career, and eventually, madness but is now a philosopher recognized worldwide (Botton).

It is an advantage to have setbacks in one’s life. The various difficulties faced by individuals makes them stronger. In Alain’s film, Paul Brown, a drinks distributor states that failing had made him better. He chooses not to look at a problem at the end. The challenges he had faced when his business failed were advantageous. These difficulties served to prove that when you succeed after failing, confrontations with future challenges becomes easier (Botton). Nietzsche wrote that he wished suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities, and the wretchedness of the vanquished for his friends. His wish is so that they may endure the pain (Nietzsche 910). In a way, he believed that experiencing these problems would make his friends better.

Nietzsche expressed the idea that it is not enough to only undergo hardship for a person to achieve fulfillment in life (Botton). The way in which problems are handled also contributes to the level of satisfaction. Alain explains that Nietzche suggested that challenges be looked at in the manner in which the gardeners view plants. If an ugly plant is tended to properly, it grows into something beautiful. Similarly, a problem or a situation that one may consider ugly in the first instance can be turned into something good. Hard situations can, therefore, result in something amazing. For example, envy, which might be considered an ugly thing, if used correctly, may propel someone to compete for something better (Botton). I concur that with the idea that if difficulties are overcome, a person can truly achieve happiness and fulfillment by approaching the challenge in the right manner. For instance, failing a test in school can inspire a student to read more and be able to attain better grades.

Nietzsche stated that the other way of getting fulfillment is through embracing, rather than running away from difficult situations. It is in the nature of human beings to avoid hardship. Nietzsche was of the opinion that, happiness does not come from escaping problems (Popova). Consumption of alcohol is not a proper way to deal with difficulty as it only dulls the pain but does not help a person face a challenge. Alcohol only serves to dull the pain and reduces the energy an individual may require to overcome the problem that resulted in pain. The comfort that is brought about by the alcohol is only temporary (Botton). When hardship is not faced, it cannot be overcome. Consequently, a person who runs away from hardship by seeking temporary comfort in alcohol cannot live a fulfilling life. In our society, people are less likely to handle problems. They prefer “drinking the pain away” or drowning their sorrow. The alcohol only makes them forget the challenge they are facing for a while but does not solve the problem. Fulfillment can only be achieved through handling issues and not avoiding them.

Difficulties are what makes life worth living. The joy of having faced a challenge and succeeded contributes to the happiness in someone’s life. A gardener who succeeds in growing a beautiful plant out of an ugly seedling achieves fulfillment. This is symbolic of the benefits a person who meets a challenge, grows and reaps something good out of an unpleasant situation. The success an individual achieves after overcoming a challenge is more fulfilling than succeeding without having to deal with any tough situations. The drinks distributor in the film correctly stated that ” How else would you know you succeeded if you have not failed?”. Hardships do not signify the end of someone’s life. They can be overcome and used to improve the life of an individual.

Works Cited

Bottom, Alain. “Nietzsche on Hardship – Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness.” Youtube Uploaded by Spookybuk. May 23 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=280Ev9h_C3c.

Nietzche, Friedrich W, Kaufmann, Walter, and Hollingdale, R.J. The Will to Power. New York: Vintage Books, 1968. Print.

Popova, Maria. Friedrich Nietzsche on Why Fulfilling Life Requires Embracing Rather than Running from Difficulty. October 15, 2014. www.brainpickings.org. Accessed on February 23, 2016.

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