Monday, October 10, 2011

Lin Yutang: Oct. 10, 1895 to March 26, 1976

Would a different attitude or perspective on life make this a better world? Certainly today's headlines should make us wonder if something isn't wrong somewhere. Lin Yutang presents an idea that appears to be non-existent in the world's leaders and their followers.

The world, I believe, is far too serious, and being far too serious, it has need of a wise and merry philosophy. The philosophy of the Chinese art of living can certainly be called the "gay science,' if anything can be called by that phrase used by Nietzsche. After all, only a gay philosophy is profound philosophy; the serious philosophies of the West haven't even begun to understand what life is. To me personally, the only function of philosophy is to teach us to take life more lightly and gayly than the average business man does, for no business man who does not retire at fifty, if he can, is in my eyes a philosopher. This is not merely a casual thought, but is a fundamental point of view with me. The world can be made a more peaceful and more reasonable place to live in only when men have imbued themselves in the light gayety of this spirit. The modern man takes life far too seriously, and because he is too serious, the world is full of troubles. We ought, therefore, to take time to examine the origin of that attitude which will make possible a whole-hearted enjoyment of this life and a more reasonable, more peaceful and less hot-headed temperament.

-- Lin Yutang --
from The Importance of Living
Chapter One

Any thoughts?


  1. "The modern man takes life far too seriously, and because he is too serious, the world is full of troubles. "

    I like this statement. Sometimes people go looking for arguments and strife where none exist. People also take themselves way too seriously and think they are much more important than they really are. They perceive personal attacks when people are merely voicing a different opinion. I see this a lot on the internet, as well.

    "a more reasonable, more peaceful and less hot-heated temperament."

    This is what I try to live by. I've noticed that when I follow this, life is better and I am happier. However, that doesn't mean it's always easy to do, LOL.

  2. Cheryl,

    I agree. I've seen situations where a laugh would have come in handy, or at least a less serious response. And, it definitely isn't easy to do when everybody else around is determined to turn the situation into a major crisis.

    By the way, I had a typo in the quotation: that should be "hot-headed," not "hot-heated."