How to be happy, despite modernity

Ancient wisdom can help us cope with modern life

Modernity is not all it’s cracked up to be. Loneliness, anxiety, restlessness and precarity are all prominent features of modern existence. This has led many to overarching critiques of modernity, arguing for its complete overhaul, often accompanied by calls for a return to more traditional forms of life. But going back to pre-modern times is not the answer. What we need to do is use ancient wisdom to temper some of the ills of modernity, while celebrating its achievements, argue Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey.

Human beings “cannot sit still in a room,” Blaise Pascal observed long ago.  For when we do, we find ourselves face to face with the “natural unhappiness of our weak and mortal condition, so miserable that nothing can console us when we think about it closely.”  We rush outside of ourselves because we find misery in our own company. 

For years, we have been speaking on college campuses, bringing Pascal’s words to the atte

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