A Reason For Living in a Nutshell
In brief, my book A REASON FOR LIVING is the product of a sustained effort to answer in the most enlightening and inspiring way this single question: Why live? I started to ask myself that question about thirty years ago after my diving accident, which left the husky and lusty teenage athlete that I was a near quadriplegic. What had given meaning to my life until then had become largely impossible. As a result, my life seemed absurd.
"Seemed" is the operative word here. Many years of reflection and study have taught me that the lack of meaning is always a lack of wisdom. Everything I have learned and that has turned the bitter and suicidal young man that I was into a mature and serene life lover is what I impart to my reader.
Listed below are some of the major points in my book:
1. There can be no contentment without acceptance of the limits of reality, within which excellence and joy are possible, but not perfection and infinite happiness. Furthermore, there can be no contentment without the courage to pursue excellence and joy persistently, against failures and misfortunes. That is to say, if life is to be compared to a car ride, we had better be in the driver's seat and move forward at a good pace, but without haste, while steering in the right direction. We are responsible for our lives, even though we do not control everything, far from it.
Above all, our minds are at our command and determine our moods. Independently of circumstances and results, contentment follows from positive thinking and positive action - though admittedly it is not possible without circumstances and results being at least favorable enough to permit thinking and action.
2. In the pursuit of excellence and joy, the awareness of our adaptability is paramount. Change, and sometimes extensive and traumatic change, is part and parcel of life. Fortunately, we are able to adapt to this change. That is, the favorable habits we develop within relatively stable circumstances - for example eating, working, or dating habits that are conducive to our happiness - do not truly define the individuals we are. What does define them so is our innate ability to acquire favorable habits whatever the circumstances (provided the latter are not so bad that they cannot be turned to good account). In a word, we are by nature adaptable, just as the world is by nature changeable.
3. The one fact that differentiates life from infinite bliss is the struggle that is required of the living to achieve satisfaction, which is never complete and permanent. We can either sorrow over that fact or rejoice at it. Why rejoice? because with the struggle comes merit, and merit is a joyful emotion that any valiant soul knows intimately and values immensely.
4. Just as we cannot build a house without first securing a solid foundation, we cannot achieve fulfillment without first ensuring that our body is sound, thanks to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
5. To be free to do what we please is a precious right that we have as members of a liberal society. This right comes with a corresponding duty: to respect that right in others. Indeed, we are free to do what we please if what we please is not to make our fellow creatures suffer. Mutual respect is the sine qua non of collective harmony. It is the chief principle behind human justice.
The right to freedom, within the liberal society, also means that we are free to believe what we please. No institutionalized ideology is imposed on us besides the basic moral principle dictating that we respect one another so that society, however liberal, remains sufficiently ordered to be operational. The reverse of order is chaos, which only knows the law of the jungle: dog eat dog.
Now, the right to believe what we please comes with a
corresponding duty: to think by ourselves and for ourselves to define our own ideology according to which we see and do things in a certain way. Again, the only imposition is the basic moral principle dictating that we respect one another.
6. Within the context of my own ideology, which I cannot impose, but only propose, love is the essence of life, its essential purpose. It includes the love of ourselves, which consists in promoting our own life. This love is instinctive and foundational; it is instrumental in the love of others, as we feel solidarity with them.
At a deeper level, love extends to that of everything. It proceeds from the divine principle behind the universe, thanks to which everything is the way it is, capable of being and better still, within certain limits, capable of flourishing. Like this principle, these limits can be ascertained through their obvious manifestations, but never explained. Ultimately, the universe and our relative knowledge of it are founded on a fathomless mystery.
For a wider perspective of this book and its author, including pictures, excerpts, autobiographical information, plus details on where to purchase the book, please use the following link:
Thank you. I wish you every happiness!
Laurent Grenier's career as a full-time writer and thinker spans over twenty years. He has released various articles in art and philosophical magazines. He has also written some philosophical essays, a collection of memories and thoughts, and a compendium of physiology and nutrition, still unpublished. A REASON FOR LIVING constitutes his best work to date.
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