The Art Of Living: Setting Ourselves Free From The Shackles Of Our Cultures Narcissism & Selfishness

Art by Jean-Pierre Weill from The Well of Being

The great German social psychologist philosopher Eric Fromm was one of the most luminous minds of the 20th century and a fountain of healing for the most abiding struggles of being human.

He distills the basic principle of life’s ultimate aim in his book The Art Of Being. Here are the most thought provoking challenging excerpts I wanted to share and remind myself of:

The two most damaging chains keeping us from liberation, Fromm observes, are our culture’s property-driven materialism and our individual intrinsic tendencies toward narcissism. He writes:

Fromm’s eloquent definition of narcissism serves very challenging to people like myself. It really forces you to take a deep look in the mirror of your consciousness and soul to assess who you really are, and why you are. Am I consistently narcissistic? If I’m honest I don’t think I am…I think very few are…but exhibiting degrees of narcissism is something much more common to plague the common man. Narcissism can come in many guises, thus it can be quite challenging to detect and eradicate.

Fromm makes you really question yourself. Are we falling for the trap of only concerning ourselves with what’s real only in a superficial sense? As he points out I think we may be falling short because we are not feeling deep enough to understand and care about the things that affects things outside of our own being. That is a very confronting thought. Mostly because I don’t know if I want to change…and even if I do…how?

“A parallel peril to well-being comes from the egotism and selfishness seeded by our ownership-driven society, a culture that prioritizes having overbeing by making property its primary mode of existence. Fromm writes:”

Fromm comforts the honest reader who may in fact not be as narcissistic as they thought. But it really points out the complex blend of self awareness and selfishness. A discomforting thought that makes you question how to reach the rewards of ‘well-being’ awaiting on the other side of this transformation.

Thank you Maria Popova for your weekly inspiration in Brain Pickings that inspired me to curate this amazing piece of work by Erich Fromm. Please hit the heart button or voice your thoughts bellow :)

Self-reflective writings & book summaries on philosophy, psychology and human behaviour. Video’s + podcast →

Self-reflective writings & book summaries on philosophy, psychology and human behaviour. Video’s + podcast →