COLUMN: Simplifying your life, learning from others, kindness toward others brings happiness

Kyle Kranz

Kyle Kranz

Greek philosopher Socrates wrote nothing down and so has not left a single written word behind after his death. He did, however, leave a lasting impression on his students that has continued to shape Western philosophy to this day. To end the semester I thought all of us could learn a bit from him on life, the universe and everything.

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

Socrates stated that he was the wisest man alive because he was aware of his ignorance. I am nearly finished with a degree in nutrition, and have taken many science classes along the way. The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much out there that I know nothing about. You must realize that there are subjects you are not prepared to answer questions on. This will do two things. First, a person becomes a master when they truly realize they will be a student their entire life. Realize that you should never stop learning. Second, be aware of what you do not know. This will prevent harm from happening to yourself and others. Such as if a pilot, who thought he was prepared to fly an Airbus A340, took flight and caused an accident. This pilot was not aware of his limits, thus creating suffering in the world. He believed that his learning was complete or thorough, when it was not. Know where your limits lie and do not be afraid of them. Embrace them, and learn from them.

“The secret to happiness you see, is not found in seeking more, but developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

My favorite author Chuck Palahniuk also said “The things you own, end up owning you.” This is something I have been working on myself lately. Recently I got rid of, literally, half of my clothes. Shirts that I do not often wear, shoes I have not worn in over a year, pants I really dislike. I donated them all to Goodwill in the hopes someone will find satisfaction in them since they were simply cluttering up my life. I also cleaned up my extra stuff, donating much of it as well. If you hurry, the life sized cardboard blue guy from Avatar may still be there. I cannot believe how much it feels like a weight has lifted off my shoulders by simply getting rid of stuff. Walk around your home and look for items you rarely use and ask why you are hanging on to something. Research shows that detaching your life from materialistic things does indeed promote happiness.

“Be as you wish to seem.”

You are a result of what you are thinking. If I am standing in line at the grocery store, and notice myself becoming impatient, I will think to myself “what would a patient person do in this situation?” Then I simply do so, and become what I desire to become. Socrates knew that our ability to become what we want to relies on our decision to simply be that. I was distraught with my field of study here at school and the future outlook of my professional life. My girlfriend asked me if I could be doing anything anywhere, what would that be? I told her, and she said make it so. Which is why after graduating with a degree in nutrition I am moving to South America to teach English as a Second Language and volunteer. If money, obligation and doing what society says to do did not matter, that is what I want to be doing. So that is what I am going to do. Instead of living a life of quiet desperation dreaming of what might be or could have been, like so many people get caught up into, I’m going to make my dream a reality and become who I want to become.

I will leave you with one last quote from Socrates, and perhaps the most important of the four.

“Be nicer than necessary to everyone you meet. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle.”

Take this into mind with finals approaching, and try to apply it to your life in general. The end of a semester can be a stressful time. A simple smile or holding of a door can change a person’s day around. Be pleasant to all those around you, and do not dump your garbage on others, be it strangers or loved ones. Imagine what they might be going through, too. Empathy is a powerful tool to have at your disposal. The use of such understanding not only benefits those whom you come in contact with, but yourself as well.