Book Reviews

The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts

October 29, 2017

Alan Watts need no introduction in any circle.So instead of praising him to the clouds i will get directly to the lessons and review of one of his not so famous gem of the book: The Wisdom of Insecurity.The Wisdom of  Insecurity is one of the essential read for these time where money obsession and consumerism are on the rise and are destroying the generation.There are many things that money can buy: swanky cars, palatial houses, high-tech gadgets. But there many other, more important things that cash can’t get you, things such as happiness and purpose. And when you think about what you want out of life, what seems more important: a Ferrari or a purposeful existence?
Bluntly put, a life of consumerism and pleasure-seeking won’t be fulfilling.
So, what will be?
This book guide you toward finding meaning in life. After reading this book you’ll stand a better chance of living the life you want.Here are top lessons which i grasped from this book:

1.Do not Discard Religion and Social Norms Completely Just because it is cool:Do you ever feel anxious or insecure because of a lack of fulfillment in life? You’re not alone: this feeling is more common now than ever before.Humans can put up with many of life’s harsh realities as long as there is something to look forward to. The devoutly religious can remain positive through the worst hardships because an infinitely blissful afterlife awaits them. But the waning influence of organized religion has shifted people’s outlook on life.The twentieth century saw societies around the world moving away from many religious concepts. The myth was losing its strength. Suddenly, with the afterlife in question, people were struggling to make sense of the pain and suffering of life. Where is the reward that makes it all worthwhile?

“So people began to fill this gap with the cheap thrills of modern society.Deprived of the meaningful narrative provided by religion, many people felt an inner emptiness. These methods can provide distraction from the bigger existential questions kicking around in the back of your mind.But what this constant stimulation is really doing is desensitizing you.It can also lead to addictive behavior. Using alcohol to fill the void can quickly take you from beer to hard liquor as your tolerance levels rise. And this desire to increase intake mirrors what is happening in today’s society. We are chasing down more and more stimulation to make up for a lack of meaning in our lives.”

2.Consumerism leaves you unfulfilled:Have you tried to convince yourself that you’ll find happiness once you get that promotion, buy that fancy new car or own that perfect house in the suburbs? Many people spend their valuable time working toward such goals. And many find only emptiness once they achieve them.
This is the essential problem of consumerism: the chase for happiness is never over.Maybe you’ve seen the image of a donkey being led by a carrot that’s always dangling just out of reach. Well, people living in Western societies work much the same way, forever chasing what they’ll never catch.

We start down this path at an early age. Children are told they’ll find happiness by getting good grades in school and going to college; then it’s going to graduate school; and, finally, getting a well-paid job with a good pension for a happy retirement.But what do you do once you have that comfortable job and nice house? Emptiness might start nagging at you again if you don’t distract yourself by coveting your neighbor’s nicer car or that bigger house down the block. And so the anxieties and the hunt for happiness continue.This way of thinking can push you into making terrible decisions.It is especially common for this mindset to lead you down the wrong career path. Parents, teachers and authority figures might convince you that attaining a prestigious job should be the goal of any young professional. But following this advice could result in a lifetime of unhappiness.What if you knew that your life’s calling was to help people – a mission that brought you joy and fulfillment? But the influential people in your life steered you away from becoming a nurse or a social worker, and you entered law school instead. It’s far too easy to end up spending your life doing unfulfilling work in the hunt for someone else’s idea of happiness.

3.There is no pleasure without pain:It’s completely natural to want to experience the joys of life. We want the highest highs without any of the lows. Unfortunately, though, life just doesn’t work that way.In order to really appreciate the intense pleasures of life, you need to process the painful parts, too.There is joy and beauty in life, but it always comes at a price. For example, think of the joy of meeting someone, falling in love and forging a lasting bond. But, of course, there’s a potential price: your partner may fall ill or out of love. Experiencing pleasure is exactly what makes it possible to experience pain; the two emotions fall on different parts of the same spectrum. Experience one, and you will experience the other.

So what can you do?You can change your perspective and stop looking at either emotion as being positive or negative. Instead, think of them as temporary events. You can then recognize pain as simply being a necessary part of life.For instance, just as the agonizing feeling of thirst can lead to the sweet satisfaction of a glass of water, you can only savor the best moments once you’ve experienced the worst.And it is with this perspective in mind that you can break the vicious cycle of worry that can take over your life.A nice house with a mortgage usually comes with a slew of worries. What if you get sick or injured and can’t make the payments?
Even if you acknowledge the irrationality of such worries, they can nevertheless lead to other anxieties. For instance, why are you worrying about whether or not you’re worrying about things that haven’t even happened! It is a vicious cycle.But if you adopt the right perspective you can reconcile yourself with life’s ups and downs and insecurities. You can break the cycle, let go of the worries and stop trying to control everything.

These are the top 3 takeaways from this book.The key message from this book is that we need to understand that there is no such thing as true security in life.So,rather than falling into a state of anxiety,accept insecurity and pains as part of life being aware in the present moment.This will help you find tranquility and  contentment.

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