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Living to Our Fullest Potential

Living A Worthy Life

In “Vivere alla massima espressione” (Living to our fullest potential) Dario Bernazza provides a list of the major problems we have to solve in order to live a life “worthy of being lived”.

[Dario Bernazza, Vivere alla massima espressione, Editrice Partenone – Luciano Bernazza & C – Roma 1989]

It is the first of Bernazza’s books we stumbled upon and the reason we were first captured (and which kept us reading) was the fact that a similar list was handed over to us by our mentor since the first days of our encounter (above you can see The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David, 1787.)

Well, not that we think Bernazza is like Socrates. He though refers a lot to Socrates’ thought, plus certainly Magister, our mentor, was a bit like a Socrates to us.

When Suffering Exceeds Joy

Leaving memories behind and getting back to Country Philosopher‘s book (this is how we like to call Bernazza), we saw in an earlier post how there is like a balance in life.

If liabilities (sufferings) exceed the assets (every pleasant moment, satisfaction or success) our life is a failure (and it would be preferable not to have come into this world). If the contrary occurs, our life is happy and fruitful (or advantageous, as CP puts it).

Liabilities though are not avoidable and are inflicted on us without any mercy, while the assets are not given us as a gift, and we must earn them day by day, bit by bit.

How?

By providing the best possible solution to the major problems of our life. This is our only way of diverting or softening our life liabilities.

The Happiness List

Let us then look at these major issues which, according to CP, we must necessarily address in the best possible way. They are 20. Yes, 20. Exactly. Bernazza is always a bit categorical. Here is the list.

1. Defining a purpose in life
2. Keeping ourselves in good health
3. Serenity of soul
4. Friendship
5. Marriage
6. Children
7. Sex
8. Being reasonably well-off
9. Enjoyment, beauty and the exquisite
10. Loneliness, ennui and feeling of emptiness
11. Choice of studies, job, career
12. Choosing where to live
13. Our behaviour towards others
14. Embracing ‘good’ as an irreversible choice
15. Excess and vice
16. Being equipped with an adequate ethical instrumentation
17. Happiness is a long, sensible (and attainable) personal conquest
18. Will is power
19. Being convinced of the enormous power of honesty
20. The necessity of carefully planning our life

Since we cannot report on every single point of the list, only 2-3 points will be analysed (here and in future posts). As far as the rest, we will only touch upon the things that struck us most.

1. The Purpose of Life

Our life, like a long and complex journey, has to set its goal. So, which is this goal and how can we define it? The argumentation of CP is clear and simple (and probably naïve, but I cannot but feel some truth in it):
Since our life is the only chance of existing we have, after which we will disappear (CP is an agnostic who considers probable our annihilation after death), one should be really convinced that the most irreparable of errors is that of not trying our best to live to the highest possible degree. If our existence is nothing but a blink between two eternities (theories of modern physicists do not seem to interest CP) the purpose of life is necessarily that of living this sole life we have to our fullest potential.

Every single day must be lived to our best, and we must continuously improve this capacity of living to our fullest. This is why we should not ask ourselves – says CP – “why do I exist” (a question we can answer via the twisted efforts of our imagination only) but rather: “how do I exist?”.

The problem is that very few people know what is most convenient to us in our everyday choices, i.e. we do not know what actions shall bring us happiness or sorrow (this previous post discusses this point). If we knew – argues CP – the number of unhappy people around would be smaller. This is why learning how to solve the main problems of life (the list, again) will diminish our life’s liabilities and allow us to live in the best possible way.

Ψ

The discussion on Bernazza’s list is continued here:
Health and Serenity of Soul
From Friendship to Asking Mamma when Looking for “Mr Right”

See also:
Assets and Liabilities in Life

About Man of Roma

I am a man from Rome, Italy. I’m 60 and a Roman since many generations. In my blog, manofroma.wordpress.com, I’m writing down my meditations. The idea behind it all is that something 'ancient' is still alive in the true Romans of today, of which few are left.

18 responses »

  1. Man of Roma, I agree that we have to live to our best in every single day, to continuously improve the capacity of living to our fullest …yes, how do I exist? I am still thinking about this question…

    “The problem is that very few people know what is most convenient to us in our everyday choices, i.e. we do not know what actions shall bring us happiness and not sorrow ”

    I think EVERYONE want their life to be happy and full of hope but as we know LIFE is not always happy, sometimes it is with sorrow. I know, “it is life”. I think most of the people KNOW what do they need to make them satisfy and feel happy. However, even they know HOW, they are still unhappy! It is frustrating. Something is not under our control……

    It seems it is easy to solve the problems by those ways but actually it is not so easy as we thought. I am in a doubt that this list could diminish our life liabilities and could help us to improve our life to the best.

    Reply
  2. @AutumnSnow

    I think most of the people KNOW what do they need to make them satisfy and feel happy
    Well, I do not quite agree, dear Autumn Snow. Like CP I also think that often our sorrows come from making the wrong choices. The world is full of such examples. A young man I know so well thought he could live on online poker and gambling only, and be happy with this totally free lifestyle, so he quit his job. Now he lost both his job and his money and he feels very miserable. We also, you and me, talked about the addictions that make us slaves: they also represent a wrong choice, or a bad habit … so in the manner we got into this bad habit, namely little by little, exactly in the same manner we can free ourselves from it, namely little by little. This is also one of Bernazza’s ideas, but I think he got it from the Greek philosopher Socrates.

    It is frustrating. Something is not under our control …
    A position, yours, different from CP’s (which is fine lol, Bernazza being only a dilettante philosopher, after all). You think we know exactly what we want, but since we often cannot have it we feel frustrated, the fulfilment of our desires thus not being under our control. Well, are you sure we know exactly what we want? And, if we know, are you sure these things will be good to us? CP’s opinion, instead (and partially also mine), is that we can have a lot of control over things, but we’d better try to understand before what is good (convenient) to us.
    On the contrary, we do not have control over those things he calls “life’s liabilities”, which – he argues – life inflicts on us without any mercy (for example, the death of someone we love, bad weather, an accident, bad politicians, being spoiled by parents etc.). This is why he insists on the *correct* way of solving the major problems of our life, which can soften our liabilities, and he provides a list of them. But this will be discussed in future posts . I myself am not convinced about many of his solutions, but I think it is useful to discuss such topics with readers.

    Thank you very much for your contribution, dear woman from China!

    Reply
  3. …addictions that make us slaves: they also represent a wrong choice, or a bad habit …

    Well, are you sure we know exactly what we want? And, if we know, are you sure these things will be good to us?

    Addictions … yes they make us slaves indeed but getting addicted to something does it represent a wrong choice/ a bad habit? I do not think so.

    It much depends on how you consider it. IF you do not regret to get addicted on it (i mean to do something you want/need), as i mentioned before (PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THEY NEED!), then it makes us happy and satisfied. No matter it is right or wrong.

    If you ALWAYS NEED to think what is good/ bad to you, I think you’ll never have a “REAL” life. Indeed, life is not always happy as I mentioned, sometimes it is with sorrows. But what is life if you keep thinking about what is good or bad for us? Since something is not under our control…it makes us frustrated but we have to cherish we still have chance to CHOOSE. Why people keep tracing what they need? It is because they have HOPE.

    Just follow your heart to do what you want. I know it is quite irrational or emotional but I know i must regret if i betrayed my heart and my will. Therefore, not considering too much what is wrong or right could make you live happier.

    The above is just my point of view, I like the way I am. I just do not want to follow the philosopher’s views to do the routine things and to enjoy my OWN life.

    Reply
  4. Defining a purpose in life
    More like multiple purposes in life. People change, so do their goals over time. :) In the end, the journey matters, not the destination.

    Oh and I call for more elaboration on Pt. no.7. :P

    Reply
  5. @Ashish
    I was waiting for you to mention Pt. no. 7 ah ah ah, although I am afraid CP will disappoint you on that.

    I’ll try to reply, my mind being tho flat now. Multiple purposes? Yes, I agree, but CP is probably talking about a sort of underlying-all type of purpose, namely profiting to our fullest from this sole life that is given to us. Well, sole life … he can’t prove this life we have is the only one. I know some religions think of multiple lives but CP – like me – is agnostic, which is like saying: I don’t know what will happen next and who is up there.

    In the end, the journey matters, not the destination
    CP sees life as a journey with a goal, but this goal – living to our fullest – implies no definite destination (unless being happy or content can be called a destination).

    Thanks for popping in buddy!

    Reply
  6. @AutumnSnow

    Your comment seems very complicated to me, lol. I do not know, maybe our minds work differently, sweet AutumnSnow, or my mind, as I told Ashish, is flat at the moment.

    If I understood well, people – you say – know what they need deep in their heart, so it is not so important if our choices are right or wrong. What counts is following one’s heart in order to live a happier life.

    Well, right or wrong, I agree, do not mean much unless we refer them to a well defined set of moral values which can be different according to the culture we belong to. Homosexuality, for example, is considered ‘wrong’ in some countries, thence a crime, thence sometimes even punished by death, while in other countries, like Spain, it is not considered ‘wrong’ and you even have legal homosexual marriages. As far as following one’s heart in our choices, no matter what, …. it can lead to happiness, but it can also be very dangerous and lead to disaster.

    Heart can be a bad counsellor, most Greek and Roman philosophies keep telling us. Follow your head (reason) and not your heart seems part of our Western (philosophical) roots. In many parts of the non Western world – as an example – marriages are planned by families and are not sprouting from romantic love. This I think is following one’s head. We used to do the same until recently also here in the West (my grandma’s marriage, for example) though now things have changed. Difficult to say if there is a relation with the high number of divorces we have lol. Very complicated (tho interesting) stuff, in any case. We might discuss it again in the future.

    Reply
  7. I was waiting for you to mention Pt. no. 7 ah ah ah, although I am afraid CP will disappoint you on that.
    Okay, looks like I’m becoming predictable day by day. Need to change my commenting style! :D

    Reply
  8. @Ashish
    No, not at all, do not change it. I like it this way! ;-)

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Health and Serenity of Soul « Man of Roma

  10. @Man of Roma..

    In case, you are not planning to brief on all the points….I have some questions…

    No doubt Pt. 7 is by far the most intresting …(add adjectives at your free will). I wanted to know since Homo sapiens males are potential till their end of life…What would constitute excess in this case? And more importanty, what is exactly the bad choice in this case??? LOL ;-)

    Can’t we scrape pt 5 and 6.. I mean children are ok…but better be adopted. And how can PT 5 – A self inflicted misery or An unnecessary complication improve the quality of life.

    Pt. 5 is contradiction to a no of key issues mentioned here. for eg:

    Pt. 1 and Pt 11. as a “Woman inspires us to great things, and prevents us from achieving them.” – Anonymous

    Pt. 3 as per James Holt McGavran
    “I’ve had bad luck with both my wives. The first one left me, and the second one didn’t.” – A lose lose situation…

    Pt 8. as per Sam Kinison
    “There’s a way of transferring funds that is even faster than electronic banking. It’s called marriage.”

    Pt 14. Have you guys ever tried embracing a good looking gal in front of ur GF?

    Pt. 15 as you live with someone all your life… Don’t u think u have excess of him???

    Pt 19. Ever tried giving a female an honest opinion?

    And most importantly Pt 17. Happiness is a long, sensible (and attainable) personal conquest. There is a small keyword called “sensible”. isn’t it?

    PS: It is a sincere and Honest effort on my part to offend females. (See pt. 1 lol)

    Jokes Apart, Pt 1. Defining a purpose in life…. will perhaps be the sole deciding factor, if not the most important factor in how we face the situtions, choice of career, studies, where we live..etc.

    Now what if 20 years from hence I find that my defination was absurd… what to do? All of a sudden almost all my assets become liabilities? Again, if I my defination is fullfilled by me… What is to be done now. For eg: If I dream to climb everest ..and I do it …Now what next?

    In such a scenario would it really be better to have some of ur goals unfullfilled. the purpose not completely achieved???

    Reply
  11. @Falcon
    Wow, as usual you give A LOT of homework only to just reply to one comment of yours. I will. Only give me some time.
    Thanks for your contribution, man ;-)
    PS
    Irreverent, as usual …

    Reply
  12. By the way, If I am correct Irreverent ==lacking proper respect or seriousness.

    Now if it’s irreverant how can it give A LOT of homework. ;-) ( it’s 0305 hrs here…So If I am awake…I sure have nothing to do!!!)

    Reply
  13. @Falcon
    You give me homework because your being irreverent is not lacking seriousness. So I decided to give you homework too and I tagged you in my ‘Random meme’. :-)
    PS
    Wow, you sleep little. Better go to sleep. You’ll do the meme another time, if you ever will. All the best, dear Falcon
    PPS
    Your comments are very interesting and intelligent. Only sometimes a bit hard (to me) to understand

    Reply
  14. @Falcon
    You just wrote on your blog:
    (Man of Roma) … takes even my irrational comments seriously and makes an effort to answer them.
    Ok, then I won’t answer your last comment ;-)

    Reply
  15. @ Man of Roma…

    Well to begin with.. most of the times they appear as so. Secondly… I was jus trying to be a pseudo – Humble…Lol

    Reply
  16. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and it seems that you really have a love-hate relationship with
    the British people. What is the real problem you have with them? I’d be curious to know”.

    Livia – 6/10/08

    Reply
  17. @Livia

    Welcome here Livia. What a wonderful Roman name lol, where are you from?

    Well, interesting comment altho a bit offtopic. I’ll say that a love-hate relationship is better than indifference. In truth I do love this darn islanders and it is only from love that comes the complain and the blame ;-)

    Two posts that regard the UK:

    Us and the Hyperboreans. 1
    Us and the Hyperboreans. 2

    Ciao Livia, and welcome again!

    Reply
  18. Pingback: From Friendship to asking Mama when looking for “the One” « Man of Roma

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