Passages from Conquest
I’ve been rereading parts of Bertrand Russell’s Conquest of Happiness, a somewhat dated book that attempts to suggest remedies for that day-to-day ennui. Here are a couple gems from the book that I stumbled on during my perusal.
From Chapter Two, Byronic Unhappiness
It is common in our day, as it has been in many other periods in the world’s history, to suppose that those among us who are wise have seen through all the enthusiasms of earlier times and have become aware that there is nothing left to live for. The men who hold this view are genuinely unhappy, but they are proud of their unhappiness, which they attribute to the nature of the universe and consider to be the only rational attitude for an enlightened man. … I do not myself think there is any superior rationality in being unhappy. The wise man will be as happy as circumstances permit, and if he finds the contemplation of the universe painful beyond a point, he will contemplate something else instead (p. 24).
From Chapter Five, Fatigue
It is amazing how much both happiness and efficiency can be increased by the cultivation of an orderly mind, which thinks about a matter adequately at the right time rather than inadequately at all times. When a difficult or worrying decision has to be reached, as soon as you have all the data available, give the matter your best thought and make your decision; having made the decision, do not revise it unless some new fact comes to your knowledge. Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing so futile (p. 60).