7 Life Lessons from Arthur Schopenhauer (The Philosophy of Pessimism) | Summary and Q&A

February 16, 2021
Philosophies for Life
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7 Life Lessons from Arthur Schopenhauer (The Philosophy of Pessimism)


Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy offers valuable insights on solitude, suffering, subconscious mind, expectations, compassion, boredom, and the importance of art.

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Key Insights

  • 👻 Solitude allows for self-discovery and personal growth.
  • ❓ The absence of suffering is the essence of happiness.
  • 🤯 Understanding and befriending the subconscious mind is crucial.
  • 🥺 Limiting expectations can lead to a less miserable life.
  • ❓ Compassion towards oneself and others is the basis of morality.
  • 🛟 Boredom is an obstacle to a fulfilled life.


Arthur Schopenhauer is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He lived from the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 19th century and while he is often described as a genius philosopher, he has also been given less flattering monikers such as The Sad Prince of pessimism and The Messenger of Misery, due to his particularly... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why did Schopenhauer believe solitude was important?

According to Schopenhauer, solitude allows us to connect with our inner selves and explore our deepest aspirations. He believed that being alone enables genuine self-discovery and personal growth, thus emphasizing the importance of finding time for solitude.

Q: How does Schopenhauer suggest removing suffering to achieve happiness?

Schopenhauer argued that true happiness lies in the absence of suffering. To be happy, individuals should evaluate the sources of their suffering and make a conscious effort to remove them. By tracking happy moments and making necessary changes, it is possible to increase happiness and minimize suffering.

Q: How did Schopenhauer view the subconscious mind?

Schopenhauer believed that the subconscious mind, which he referred to as "the will," controls our actions. He compared the conscious mind to a rider and the subconscious mind to a big elephant. While we cannot fully control the subconscious mind, Schopenhauer advised understanding and befriending it to facilitate the achievement of desired goals.

Q: How did Schopenhauer propose limiting expectations can lead to a less miserable life?

Schopenhauer argued that a life with less suffering is better than a life with great joys. By limiting expectations and focusing on minimizing pain rather than pursuing pleasure, individuals can experience greater contentment. Schopenhauer believed that having realistic expectations and being compassionate towards oneself and others are key to a more fulfilling life.

Q: How does Schopenhauer suggest avoiding boredom?

Schopenhauer believed that boredom is a foe of human happiness. To avoid falling into a state of boredom, he advised concentrating less on the external world and possessions and more on inner fulfillment and connection. By practicing mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude, individuals can escape the cycle of pain and boredom.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Arthur Schopenhauer, a renowned philosopher, emphasized the importance of solitude in self-discovery and personal growth.

  • Schopenhauer believed that true happiness is the absence of suffering and encouraged individuals to identify and remove sources of suffering in their lives.

  • He emphasized the influence of the subconscious mind on our actions and advised understanding and befriending it.

  • Schopenhauer argued that limiting expectations can lead to a less miserable life and emphasized the value of being compassionate towards others.

  • He viewed boredom as a significant obstacle to happiness and suggested focusing less on external possessions and more on internal fulfillment.

  • Lastly, Schopenhauer celebrated the power of art to transcend reality and connect individuals with the spiritual essence of the world.

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