8 Lessons George Bernard Shaw Has Taught Me About Philosophy and Life

I was randomly surfing the web, and randomly came across the work of George Bernard Shaw, and I am super-inspired. George Bernard Shaw is probably one of the wisest, most badass, and empowering philosophers/writers/aphorists that I have come across.

For more info, read his book: “Maxims for Revolutionists

George Bernard Shaw

Here are practical words of wisdom which inspired me from George Bernard Shaw:

0. Why not?


I hear you say “Why?” Always “Why?” You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”

By asking “Why not?” you give yourself the opportunity to dream of things which have not yet been created.

Also, to say “Why not?” gives you a spirit of experimentation, and is one of the best phrases to counter-act nay-saying.

Assignment: Try it out, whenever you’re having a conversation with someone else or yourself, ask: “Why not?”

1. Be unreasonable


The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

In modern society, we are told to be ‘reasonable’. But I like this idea of being unreasonable. Why? If we are ‘unreasonable’ in life– we are more likely to make new stuff, to innovate, and to pave new paths in life!

Lesson: Being stubborn is a virtue. Be stubborn to your own inner-truth and vision; but be flexible with small details in life (Jeff Bezos has said something similar).

Realize that by your trying to be unreadable is make progress in society. For myself, I see my own stubbornness as a virtue, because my ultimate desire is to help progress humanity! Therefore consider your stubbornness in a positive way: don’t be stubborn to be an asshole, but be stubborn for the greater good of humanity!

For more inspiration on people who have put a ‘dent in the universe’, study Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Kanye West.

2. In praise of production

eric kim seas.jpg

We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.

To me, happiness comes through production//making stuff. Don’t think that just buying stuff or consuming stuff we will be ‘happy’. It is my belief that happiness is an ACTIVE action; we must create happiness for ourselves by making photos, making poems, writing stuff, and making anything your heart desires!

The same goes with wealth: you can’t just expect to be happy by spending money/wealth. Instead, seek to create/add value to society in order to create new sources of wealth!

3. Make your own circumstances!


People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.

Never blame circumstances, others, or the external world. Let us instead create our own positive circumstances in life.

For example, you can make your own job by being persistent, resourceful, and by spending less money/lowering your lifestyle. This is what has helped me make a living from street photography; something that others in the past told me was impossible.

Learn more: Entrepreneurship 101 >

4. Prefer art

If you leave your art, the world will beat you back to it. The world has not an ambition worth sharing, or a prize worth handling. Corrupt successes, disgraceful failures, or sheeplike vegetation are all it has to offer. I prefer Art, which gives me a sixth sense of beauty, with self-respect: perhaps also an immortal reputation in return for honest endeavour in a labour of love.

Art is awesome. And if you’re reading this, I consider you an artist.

Make art by making photos or anything. By making art, you will feel more joy in your life. You will perceive more beauty in the world, and also find more motivation to live!

5. Don’t fit the measurements of others


The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.

“Not every shoe fits every foot” is a saying said by Publilus Syrus around 2,000 years ago. The morale is this:

Don’t let others measure you; measure yourself.

You are unique; don’t let others try to force you into some sort of box or category. Avoid the bed of procrustes (the story that an inn-keeper would chop the limbs of his guests to fit his boxes).

6. Dictate your own purpose in life


This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

To me true joy is dictating your own purpose in life, and devoting all of your energy to pursue that purpose. Also to know that your own self-directed purpose in life is important.

Lesson: Dictate your own purpose in life; and pursue it until you die!

7. Make the most out of life!


Economy is the art of making the most of life. The love of economy is the root of all virtue.

You’re going to die. What do you wish to do, achieve, or create while you’re still alive?


Masters of Philosophy

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