3 Actionable Takeaways from Nietzsche’s Philosophy
Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most influential philosophers of the last 200 centuries. His work investigates many aspects of the human condition — our motivations, thought processes, and goals. In an effort to understand and synthesize Nietzsche’s philosophy, I wanted to find 3 actionable takeaways one could deduce from his philosophy.
This is difficult because Nietzsche’s philosophy has been misunderstood and misrepresented throughout history. Some associate Nietzsche with nihilism — the belief that nothing has any inherent importance and that life lacks purpose — whereas in much of his work he discounts nihilistic thinking. Even the Nazis selectively picked Nietzsche work that was Anti-Semitic to further their ideology when in reality Nietzsche was passionately opposed to Anti-Semitism.
For me personally, I value philosophy that can make an impact on my daily routine or can alter my thought processes in a tangible way. I always find myself asking the question, “But what does this mean for me?”. Nietzsche’s philosophy was enlightening because it provided both thought-provoking insights about the nature of man but also practical ways to utilize that information.
#1 Have an Ultimate Goal 🎯
“Either you reach a higher point today, or you exercise your strength in order to be able to climb higher tomorrow.”
The first step to living a fulfilled life is to knowing what you want out of it. In the unexamined life, people tend to be very reactionary to whatever is the current strongest outside influence. Their is no intention on the person’s part just what pressures around them telling them what they should do.
At any given moment this external pressure could change. For example, if you are in school the greatest pressure on you could be to get a paper written. Or if you are in an orchestra the greatest pressure is to practice a piece before tomorrow’s rehearsal. Or maybe you haven’t eaten in 5 hours and now the greatest pressure is to find something to eat.
Whatever the case maybe this principle can be applied to timescales and decisions of larger magnitudes. Your actions could also be a culmination of multiple influences set down by those around you. If we never stop to reflect what is our greater goal, we enter a rabbit-hole of reactionary thinking.
Instead of thinking of what makes sense in the moment or from external pressures the key is to have a guiding goal. This guiding goal, Nietzsche said, could be found by looking at the people you most admire in the world and examining which characteristics appeal to you. I also would add that any of your current passions or areas of interest are also key to developing this ultimate goal.
There are many desires you could have in life, but if it does not align with your ultimate goal, then it is not rational for you to desire it. For example, being a creator on TikTok may seem like a very appealing goal because of the fame and attention it brings but if it does not make sense to you then it does not make sense to desire it.
🔑 Actionable Takeaway : Examine in those around you what are the virtues you admire most in others? Is it Elon Musk’s ambition? Is it Warren Buffet’s industriousness?
#2 Don’t Drink
“He who cannot find the way to his ideal, lives more frivolously and shamelessly than the man without an ideal.”
Nietzsche was a big believer in self-agency and possessing the willpower take actions toward your ultimate goal. The biggest crux to action however are numbing mindsets.
Numbing mindsets essentially are attitudes we take to think being satisfied with our current surroundings. They are the breed inaction and mediocracy.
Nietzsche described this as the “slave morality” and criticized the Christian faith to propagate this mindset. He argued that the Christian faith emphasized values that suppressed people’s true desires because people of the past did not take the action to get what they wanted. Therefore, they created a system of morals where it was okay to be deficient in certain areas.
This can also be applied to drinking or any other distraction that stops you from taking action towards your ultimate goal. It puts you in a state of mind that makes you think you never really desired xyz in the first place.
In the 21st century we are surrounded by 10x more distractions than any generation before us. As time goes on I anticipate these distractions will only increase. However the great thing about todays world is the amount of agency and freedom to be affected by these distractions. You can decide whether or not to succumb.
🔑 Actionable Takeaway : Identify — what is the biggest distraction in my life causing a numbing mindset in me?
#3 Hardship is Inevitable 🧗♀️
“you must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame; how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?”
Nietzsche throughout his life underwent a lot of hardship. He was sick for large periods of his life, had a troubled relationship with his sister, and lost a lot of close friendships. Nietzsche tried to propose to the same women three times but was rejected every time.
When we suffer is when we are most vulnerable and fearful and there is a lot we can learn about ourselves in those moments. Nietzsche believed suffering was part of the process of “self-overcoming” in order to reach your ultimate goal. He truly believed that “what does not destroy me makes me stronger”.
In order to put this into practice a useful mantra is “Amor Fati” — love your fate. No matter what happens to you in your life, embrace it with positive energy. You get fired from your job? Amor Fati. You get an F on a test? Amor Fati. No matter what happens to you see it as an opportunity to learn and grow from it.
By practicing Amor Fati you can become emotionally centered and negative events have less of an impact on the psyche. When trained and practiced over time you will be able to handle more hardships and stress when trying to accomplish your goals.
🔑 Actionable Takeaway : Listen to this video and repeat the phrase Amor Fati whenever a negative event occurs in your life.
- Have an ultimate goal/purpose in life. You get this by examining the traits of others you most admire.
- Numbing mindsets are the #1 obstacle to not achieving your ultimate goal. Identify what these numbing mindsets are to you.
- Hardship is part of the process of self-actualization. Learn to deal with hardship by internalizing the phrase — Amor Fati.