For those of you who often get into a point in your lives where you feel a little lost or at least uncertain or desperate about your future, recently I’ve been doing some reading and I came across a concept from a philosopher that made a lot of sense, and it has cleared my way a lot with regards to how to face life.
Socrates was a huge believer in human rationality. He believed that every human being wanted to have pleasure and avoid pain at all times, these two feelings being extremely subjective in this case and not necessarily resembling the literal meaning of the words (what is pain for you may be pleasure for others). Combining this concept with the fact that humans are rational beings, you have the principle that no sane person would willingly choose evil (pain) over good (pleasure), getting to the conclusion that people do bad things to others or harmful thing to themselves for the simple fact of not knowing better at the moment.
For example, there’s junk food: if people knew how much eating an exaggerated amount of junk food on a daily basis is bad, they would consciously and simply not do it. Unfortunately, it is a little hard to attest the veracity of this concept because you can’t prove Socrates right or wrong: while some people may say “I know how bad it is, but I still eat it”, he would definitely reply “If you really knew, you wouldn’t”, and we could never know who owns the reason here.
But that’s not the point – What really matters is that he might be right, and this already gives you an opportunity to think about what are the bad habits that you do in your life and what you are willing to do to get rid of them. Anybody could, triggered by the wise advice of Socrates, research better about the things you do in life and learn about them enough to decide if you should or not do it. If you research about the condiments in junk food, how many toxins they carry, how long they take to be out of your system and how they change your metabolism in a long-term perspective, perhaps (and for many people) the pleasure you have whilst eating it may not be worth the pain these effects will bring to your future.
Of course, this is just an example. A cheeseburger every once in a while won’t kill you. But let’s take this concept into consideration, rethink our attitude a little more – thinking about their effects on us and on the people surrounding us – and try to use it in our favor to be always better individuals. If you really care about yourself – and Socrates definitely thinks that you do! – let this idea grow on you and allow your search for pleasure push you to learn, change and grow.