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Don’t limit yourself as you get older

Posted February. 13, 2023 07:46,   

Updated February. 13, 2023 07:46


“The secret to happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the thing and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.” ― The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell

It sounds like nothing special, but it isn’t. Russell is asserting something that goes against the conventional wisdom of life.

In a conversation with his young secretary, Ackermann, the old Goethe tells how to live a wise life. The key is to excel at calculations. Being proficient in calculations means “limiting oneself.” In other words, one should set aside interests in studying foreign languages or pursuing areas that may not be of practical use or seem endless and instead focus on what one can truly make their own. For ambitious young individuals, this should be their priority.

However, what should one do if they are no longer young? As we age, we tend to feel the need to retire from our interests and simplify our lives. However, Russell warns that it is dangerous for the elderly to continue limiting themselves. The reason is that the less we focus on, the more we demand from what is left, which can lead to inevitable disappointment. As a result, our unhappiness becomes increasingly certain.

In William Trevor's short story, an old man has a premonition that his life is coming to an end, and in response, he disposes of all his possessions. With nothing left but a trunk, he has nowhere else to go but the bed where he will ultimately die.

No one would want to leave the world in such a way as long as they can move their body. I want to continue learning new things and experiencing the beauty of life that I have never known before. If someone scolds you for your many interests, telling us that you are too old to pursue such things, it is a sign that you are living wisely.