Forget about mindfulness and clean eating – at a time when we appear to be experiencing rising levels of anxiety, narcissism and unhappiness, existentialism may be the philosophy to adopt to improve your mental well-being.
Existentialist philosophy explores what it means to be human, what it means to be happy and what it means to be oneself.
This involves accepting responsibility for one’s own actions and facing up to difficult questions in order to fully realise oneself.
Existentialism supposes three interrelated components:
- Existential anxiety: life is hard and finite, chaotic and meaningless. Awareness of this is distressing.
- Existential avoidance: people try to distract themselves from the pain of these in routines, activities, social belonging and ego building.
- Existential authenticity allows people to face up to these painful realisations, accept responsibility for their own actions and work towards self-actualisation (when a person achieves their maximum potential).
Ideally these three states should be in balance. We need to face difficult questions, but nobody wants to spend all day thinking about death. Distractions help to keep us content, however, they can be time-consuming and self-indulgent. Searching for self-actualisation can be stimulating and rewarding, but it is also tiring.
The question to ask is, do we have the balance right? [Read more…] about A bit of existentialism for what ails you