In this week’s podcast we all learn something about what some ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about how we view ourselves and how we can all learn to be happier.
Confucius is one of our go-to Chinese philosophers. He’s now famous for some big picture aphorisms: one of my favourites being ‘life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated’. But he was so much more than simply making large statements about the big picture. His classic book, The Analects, often posits the opposite point of view. Here Confucius muses on how high he preferred to position his elbows and the intricacies of how he acted at dinnertime. And this is because Confucius wasn’t into the big metaphysical questions. He was practical. He believed that one key to living a happier and more productive life was from the bottom up, not from top down. And to him, the focus was on the little rituals of life. Indeed ritual was one of the ‘six arts’ of education that he focused on.
Some 2500 years after his birth we know that he was right. Research shows 40% of what you do every day is done out of habit. If you get the little rituals sorted, if you get rid of bad habits and build good ones, then nearly half of your life will be lived well. Think about this for a moment. Ponder. Reflect. It sounds like a good deal.
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This week’s podcast makes use of the following texts. They are great books and are well worth checking out.