“If you turn your life into a process, it will end up being so”

by Inspyria  02-02-2017

Frédéric Lenoir, philosopher; and most read essayist in France according to ‘Le Nouvel Observateur’ I am 54 years old: I rejuvenate as I teach philosophy in schools. I am French: Europe’s sin is envy. And the century’s is wanting to control everything: let’s celebrate life without wanting to control it.

Interesting interview with French philosopher and essayist Frédéric Lenoir

“If you turn your life into a process, it will end up being so”

“If one rejoices in the triumphs of others, he will always be a winner.” Discourse at the Palau Macaya, of the Fundació La Caixa.

Never compare yourself

During the twentieth century, the French read political essays because they believed in collective redemption for ideology and wanted to win in the struggles for power at work, family or sex. In the 21st century, they think that learning to live is an individual effort of self-knowledge.

Hence the triumph of the incursions of the search of the vital teachings of classical thinkers and Buddhism; because without philosophy you can live, but worse. Lenoir is the most read essayist, more than the sacred cows of French thought. Of course, this makes him envied, but what makes him a philosopher is that he would also be happy if they didn’t read him. Envy swallows joy and is avoided with discipline: that of never comparing oneself. (Especially if you lose out.)

Then it seemed the key to improving the world

And today we write about spirituality, but not as religion, but as an inner search for personal growth.

Is there spirituality without religion?

Let’s see: religion is the ritual and collective experience of those who share the same beliefs.

But the churches grow empty

And sport or rock stars fill the stadiums: the same faith shared in ritual.

In addition, there are still weddings and baptisms

Rites are inalienable, even if faith in the unprovable has already been renounced. They are part of religion. But what has made me into a read author is the return to spirituality.

A spirituality also without faith?

Spirituality is the answer to everyone’s desire to know each other better and grow. It can be secular: some religious people are not spiritual and, on the opposite hand, very spiritual people who are not at all religious.

Is religion not another form of politics?

Some ideologies, such as communism, became religion, like so many State cults. Buddha and Jesus Christ are revolutionaries precisely because they challenged the misconception that religion is just that: a collective rite.


Jesus corrects Judaism by saying that those who only obey the norms of religion without transforming themselves are only hypocrites; and Buddha, to Hinduism, by warning that for many sacrifices you make, you will not be reincarnated without inner perfection.

Are there any Jesus or Buddha to discover?

Many, because today psychology, philosophy and even some scientific disciplines have turned to the renewal of spirituality.

As mindfulness everywhere?

Meditation improves our existence and is pure spirituality. Me personally, in addition, am rereading philosophy classics to live better today.

Welcome if it is not banal self-help

Baruch Spinoza is never banal. Even up to today his relevance continues to impress, as he proposes joy as a scale of fullness of our existence. If you are happy, he concludes, you know how to live.

And others thank you

And so they make you feel better and you more and more to them. But let’s see why, according to Spinoza, we get sad quite often.

Why so much bitterness on the planet?

The human being is not free, but a slave to his desires and emotions. Therefore, Spinoza invites us to unravel them using reason.

It seems accurate but…original?

Yes, because Buddhists and ascetics preached that to avoid pain you have to avoid desire. Because if we want, for example, money, we get frustrated in not achieving it and in achieving it, since it will never be enough; The same happens with success or any pleasure, which always ends in sadness.

But is life without desire desirable?

Spinoza does not think so. He believes that desire is the engine of life and that it should not be suppressed, but oriented.

That seems more doable than eliminating it

We don’t need to become monks. It’s about observing and analysing ourselves with reason to discovering what people and things that we want actually hurt us.

It seems easier said than done

But there you will always have the joy to remind you always if you have succeeded. For example, if after getting promoted at work one returns home depressed every day, maybe it means he wanted it but that it didn’t suit him.

How to discern between joys?

Spinoza distinguishes between passive and active joys. A football team gives imaginative joy: we project ourselves in their triumphs without doing anything to achieve them. The same happens with a partner who does not make us happy: we may feel desire for the other, but in the long run it will make us sad. And sadness, according to him, is a sign that something doesn’t suit us.

What is the conclusion?

Authentic lasting joy is obtained from just desires. Reason knows how to find them if we use it to know each other better and guide desire.

Didn’t Freud say something similar?

For Freud, when you discover the trauma of your frustrations, you can free yourself from them.

Lucidity in analyzing your life frees you

For Spinoza, on the other hand, that lucidity is only the means to achieve joy, which is the end.

In La Contra we have not had and sad Wise person

Wise is he who has discovered what gives him joy and what makes him unhappy: let’s use reason to elucidate what causes us true joy.

What do you suggest in order to achieve it?

Desire can be chosen, like a chocolate, that gives you pleasure but not joy. Joy only floods you when you make long-term decisions: perhaps your joy is more sincere and lasting if you reject the chocolate and choose to be healthier.

Any specific advice?

Connect with the moment, because if you turn life into a process, it ends up being one. Hold each moment as if it were the last. Nothing sadder than living with the autopilot.

Every day, waking up to a new life as a child wearing his new shoes

Never compare yourself with anyone and rejoice in everyone’s successes. You will always feel a winner.

Giving and self-giving is already winning

And never want to control everything. Life must be accepted and loved, with Nietzsche, also with its misfortunes. And, like the Taoists say, it must be accompanied without wanting to control it, because we are not gods. Celebrate life as joy will never leave you.

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