Eupeptic: Thoreau's most subversive recipe for a full and free life

“Most men lead lives of quiet despair. What is called resignation is nothing more than a confirmed desperation ”, wrote the philosopher Henry David Thoreau in his book“ Walden ”.

In the modern world, no one has the time to be anything more than a machine, "they have no choice but to become a machine". Since free time has practically disappeared, “no one can afford the luxury of establishing relationships with others” The relationship with oneself and others is false. "Everyday conversation is empty and ineffective." The space of these things is completely occupied by fatigue.

Unnecessary worries pervade existence. Most people are slaves to the banality of everyday life: work, salary, consumption, debt ... And then "we get sick to save something for difficult times", to save money by making epic existential contortions, "dedicating the part best of our life to earn money to enjoy questionable freedom during its worst part ”. Meanwhile, everyone dies today postponing their life to tomorrow. We lose our lives trying to earn it.

The solution? Practicing eupeptics, one of the few neologisms that the philosopher used in all his works.

What is eupeptics?

In "Life Without Principles", Thoreau referred to the fact that most people digest everything with difficulty: the state, society, politics, relationships, the daily routine ... This difficulty in digesting it calls it dyspepsia and defines it as a "Vital function for human society", but not for every individual, so if we submit to it we will end up devoured.

He was convinced that we are all a kind of cog in an important mechanism that "forces us" - in a more or less obvious and more or less coercive way - to worry about things that are difficult to digest, because they actually take us away from our condition natural and condemn us to a life of dissatisfaction and resignation.

The philosopher opposed dyspepsia, eupepsia, the conscious will to enjoy that opposes the negativity and automatisms that surround us. It is a "congratulating each other on the wonderful sunrise of each day instead of finding themselves as dyspeptic to tell each other their bad dreams".

However, the "eupeptic medicine" proposed by Thoreau is not a simple "positive thought" but goes much further, it is a subversive path of personal liberation that implies living as discoverers of ourselves, not looking for an external revolution but a personal way of life. , original and based on simplicity.

The 7 ingredients of "Eupeptic Medicine"

1. Choose happiness consciously

Thoreau believed that nothing outside of ourselves could bring us the peace and happiness we need. He was convinced that all situations contain positive and negative aspects, which is why he suggested turning inconveniences into advantages, looking for the positive in the negative, consciously choosing happiness instead of pessimism, joy to sadness and making one's life a party. He believed that the fun we desperately seek is nothing more than the expression of an existential sadness because it does not aim to nourish the soul but to make us forget the problems. His solution was through self-knowledge and simplicity.

2. Know yourself

The greatest journey of our life is the journey of personal discovery. Although the philosopher had the opportunity to travel halfway around the world, he preferred to isolate himself in the forests of his hometown, Concord, to explore the interior. He encouraged "to explore one's own sea, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans of ourselves" and thought that "this requires sight and value", much more than getting lost in other latitudes of the earth. This journey of personal discovery will allow us to know our resources but, above all, to know exactly what we need and what we really want, freeing ourselves from social influence.

3. Be true to your dreams

In a world where everyone invites us to be pragmatic, Thoreau was proposing just the opposite. He believed that “if you have already built castles in the air, your work must not have been in vain; there is where they should be. Now do the foundations. " One of his commandments was to live the life we ​​imagined, to follow our dreams, instead of letting them mold to the bottom of a drawer, relegating them to the last floor to prioritize the commandments of society. He was convinced that if we believe in our dreams, we will find the confidence to make them come true. So we will avoid this calcification of the soul which prevents us from creativity and freshness in using ourselves and the world.

4. Love your life, live without penance

Thoreau was convinced that we should love our life and remove all guilt and exaltation of suffering from it, as many religions propose. For the philosopher, loving life means moving away from those self-destructive impulses so common in our daily thoughts and, above all, having faith in ourselves and in the direction that things take. It is to seek joy in one's existence, without needing anything else. It is not necessary to justify the existence but to simply enjoy it and embrace it.

For this we need to free ourselves from the slavery of judgment, not only of the judgments of others, also of our own. We have to create our life with our hands. He affirmed that "no way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be taken at face value", because ancient ways of living are not eternal and insurmountable truths, immutable certainties, but rather reprehensible options. "What everyone silently celebrates or admits today may turn out to be false tomorrow." We shouldn't assume a way of life is right and true just because millions of people share it. A huge number of people may share the same prejudice but that doesn't make it any more valid.

5. Simplify, simplify, simplify

“The superficial leads to the superficial”, wrote Thoreau. “What is the point of acquiring worldly wealth or fame and giving a false image to others, as if we were just a shell, without a tender and lively heart inside us?”, He asked himself. Simplicity is an imperative of his eupeptic medicine and the two years he lived in the forest are proof of this. The philosopher thought that we were sinking under the weight of the superfluous, that we were wasting our time and energy to buy those things, thus becoming slaves to what we want and possess.

In fact, this simplification also includes our activities, the work we do, especially when the latter has the sole objective of allowing us to continue to buy things that are not essential and do not give happiness. He thought that work was only a means of producing the goods needed to live a simple life.

6. Be where your body is

Thoreau did not neglect oriental wisdom, he knew meditation and its benefits, but above all he was aware of the importance of living in the here and now. He believed that walking and observing nature were two effective ways to find oneself. It suggested being fully present, seizing the moment, and taking time to be with ourselves. In his own words: “being busy without doing anything”.

7. Live free, unattached

“Do we boast of the freedom to be slaves or the freedom to be free?” Asked the philosopher who exalted freedom and chosen solitude like nobody else. For Thoreau, freedom consisted of being able to invent one's own life, having the time to do what we want, obeying our wishes and living unattached. Leave, return or stay at will, make your life a work of art. Above all, freedom was freedom of thought. "If a man thinks freely, dreams freely, and imagines freely, he will never seem to be what he is not, and neither rulers nor inept reformers can actually force him."

But perhaps the most precious advice of all, to honor the thought of this philosopher, was: "Do not imitate me, do not copy me, invent your life, create your existence [...] You cannot live the life of another" .

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