Nietzsche And Stress—Part 1

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Nietzche and stress part 1I was searching the Internet the other day for a quote to use in a new book I am writing, and I stumbled upon a large selection of quotes from the German-born philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900).

Now I am in no way a Nietzsche scholar, but I do remember studying about him and reading parts of a few of his philosophical works.  And I do remember that some of his main ideas seemed very wise and insightful to me.

But as I read through the extensive list of his quotes I found recently, I couldn’t help thinking that many of them were very similar to points I have made (or would like to make) in this blog about stress.

So I said to myself, “Hey, why not share some of these quotes with you right here?”  Therefore, this week I’ll be doing just that with this post and the next two to come.

Nietzsche Quotes That Relate To Human Stress

I’ll start off with just five of them today, just to show you what I mean.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  

Wow! I never knew this originated with Friedrich Nietzsche.  I thought the singer Kelly Clarkson made this up (tongue in cheek).  But it’s true nonetheless.  Adversity can be stressful for sure, but you can always find ways to at least get some benefits from it, provided you have this as a very strong intention.

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”  

I think I’ll have to use this for a toast at the next wedding I attend. Obviously, there is a whole host of things that can make for an unhappy marriage, but this one’s right up there on the list.  Also, I would say that we frequently overestimate the power of love and strong emotional feelings to have our relationships succeed in the long run.  Usually, it takes commitment, honesty, acceptance, humility, and a whole bunch of other relationship skills to have even half a chance. 

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” 

I never heard this quote before, but the moment I saw it, I was instantly attracted to it. 

Think about all the people you have met who think they’ve got the right way or the only way or the preferred way to do things.  Also, think about the times you’ve thought this way yourself.  Did this cause you any problems and stress?  I’ll bet it did. 

It’s fine to say “I’ve got the right way for me” assuming that it really is working well for you. But the minute you start trying to impose your way upon others, you are asking for trouble…and you’ll usually get it. 

“Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.”  

Bingo!  Shame this quote wasn’t around during Socrates’ days in ancient Greece. He might have lived a little longer.  

This is a root cause of most human stress and it’s one of the most difficult obstacles when trying to help someone reduce their stress.  And don’t think this only applies to a few lofty illusions in our life.  We have illusions and mistaken ideas all over the place, yet we are very reluctant to look at them or consider them honestly, for the reason that Nietzsche has identified.

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” 

Couldn’t have said this better myself.  If fact, I’ve said this same thing myself on many occasions.  Now at one level we can distinguish facts from interpretations, depending upon whether there is an objective way to confirm a statement of fact, or whether a statement being made is merely someone’s personal judgment or assessment. 

But I suspect that Nietzsche would not be satisfied with this level of thinking.  He would probably say there are no such things as “facts” anywhere, even when you do have objective proof to establish a correspondence.  On a deeply philosophical level, I suppose he’s actually right, but there’s no need for us to debate this issue because there’s little to be gained from pushing this concept any further.

Well, I hope you liked these first five quotes from Nietzsche.  Stay tuned for Wednesday’s and Friday’s new posts on this blog, as I’ll have more of them to share with you along with some of my personal commentary.

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