Nietzsche And Stress—Part 2

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Nietzche And Stress Part 2Today, I’ll be sharing a second helping of quotes with you from the German-born philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900).  These are quotes I find particularly interesting and either directly or indirectly related to our modern-day stress.

Nietzsche Quotes

Here are five more Nietzsche quotes to go along with the five I shared with you in my last blog post.

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”  

Now this is probably an overstatement, but there’s still a good bit of truth in it.  I would argue that “insanity”—not the extreme form but rather defined as illogical, ungrounded thinking—is not all that uncommon in individuals.  But it’s well-known that group-think is often very disconnected from reality.  Just look at the level of partisan political thinking in our country today to see how well this statement applies.

“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”  

Show me a person who’s reluctant to change their opinions and I’ll show you a person who’s probably got a good deal of problems and stress.  The nature of life and the nature of being human require that our opinions should be growing and changing frequently, as we acquire more life experiences and recognize certain weaknesses in our previous philosophies and beliefs. 

“There are two different types of people in the world, those who want to know, and those who want to believe.”  

This quote sort of embodies the spirit of both the previous quotes.  As human beings, we tend to fall in love with our beliefs.  Whether our beliefs are correct or not doesn’t really matter.  They are OUR BELIEFS and as such, we often feel the need to protect and defend them.  After all, if you’ve been arguing for certain point of view for many years, are you really going to suddenly do an about face and say “never mind…I was wrong all along.”  Of course you’re not going to want to do this.  Hence, you will not really be committed to “knowing.”  Sure, you might say you are open to new input, but when it truly comes your way, you will quickly reject it.  On the other hand, if you actually are committed to “knowing,” you will quickly discover that all of your beliefs, even your most favorite ones, must be totally up for grabs.

“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”  

Here again we see the powerful, pervasive influence of group-think.  Much of what we are conditioned to believe in our society today is not really true.  It is just what certain influential people (living and past) have declared to be true and then others have followed along.  Just look at how most of us have been taught to think about stress today.  Little of what we’ve been taught is really true, and if you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know what I mean by this.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”  

I thought I’d end on this slightly lighter note.  There’s something about the unity of body and mind that gets our creative juices flowing more clearly when we are up and moving around.  Today, we either don’t exercise/walk much at all, or we do it just for the physical benefits to be gained.  We rarely think of exercise as a way to achieve mental and spiritual benefits as well.  I was a long-distance runner for more than 25 years.  And from the very beginning, I got more out of it mentally than anything else.  I’ve also had lots of great insights while walking, which is why this particular quote spoke to me deeply.

Stay tuned for another batch of Nietzsche quotes in my next blog post on Friday.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

David Adams June 15, 2013 at 6:49 PM

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

There is so much truth to this quote. Walking, running, yoga or other exercise help clear the mind of extraneous matters and permit thought and creativity to flow more freely. Not dissimilar to the Zen Buddist saying to ‘keep the bowl empty.’


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