7 Quotes From a “Mad Man” That Will Inspire Your Next Adventure
Wisdom from the most misunderstood philosopher of all time.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s life was up there with Romeo and Juliet as one of the greatest tragedies of all time.
He was physically disabled, he struggled with severe mental illness for his entire life, and he couldn’t sell a book if his life depended on it.
The story of his death is even more depressing.
As the story goes, he was walking in Turin, Germany one afternoon and he saw a horse getting beaten on the street. This triggered a psychotic episode that led him to his death just a year later. He died of a neurological disorder associated with late-stage syphilis. It’s possible that he contracted this case of syphilis from the prostitute he lost his virginity to.
Though he couldn’t get laid or sell books, Nietzsche still created some of the most profound and lasting philosophies of the modern era. He was literally so brilliant that it drove him mad, and all that’s left of his legacy is a collection of books that for a long time, no one read.
These 7 quotes are just a few of his profound words that have helped inspire me to confront my fears and jump head-on toward self-mastery, self-improvement, and my own personal evolution.
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
Most of us have dreams, but very few of us actually begin to pursue them.
We want to be writers, but we publish nothing (I for one wrote for no one but myself from age 17–23). We want to be fit, but we skip the gym. We want to be entrepreneurs, but we don’t start businesses. We want to be happy, but we don’t take risks.
In hindsight, these behaviors make me want to pull my hair out. Why do people slack off so much? Is it just human nature to waste our own potential?
The answer here is painfully simple yet also incredibly complicated: people are ambitious and also lost and scared. There is no path or “way” to achieve most of our specific dreams. But Nietzsche reminds us that “the way” is an illusion created by other people to understand their own existence. If you want to begin, just begin. The rest will fall into place. If it doesn’t, change course.
It’s difficult, but it’s not complicated.
“One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.”
This is such a beautiful quote.
As someone who’s anxious, I always feel petrified to begin new endeavors, relationships, and quests. I used to tell myself, “When ______ happens, then I will begin _____”. In other words, I used to wait for the right circumstances to do things that would make me happy.
And you know what? Those circumstances never came, and I sat in “quiet desperation”.
You don’t need to be “perfect” to create beautiful work or go on incredible adventures. You are perfect as you are, chaos and all. In fact, your internal chaos is an important part of what helps create beauty in your life. If you can love yourself and strive to improve, your perceived limits will fail to stop you from going after your dreams.
“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
This quote is from Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols, and it’s probably his most famous quote of all time.
This might seem like a throwaway because the advice here is so darn obvious, but there’s nothing quite like a badass affirmation to send you out the door toward the life of your dreams. In anything we do, we will encounter failure and fear along the way. This is quote is just a reminder that failure is not final, fear is normal, and all of your experiences can make you a stronger human being.
I do not interpret this quote literally (sometimes, things hurt you and make you weaker in the process), but I do interpret it philosophically. Your pain is your most powerful tool if you can process it.
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
Self-mastery has a price, and sometimes, that price is loneliness, sadness, and anxiety.
There’s a reason that Thus Spoke Zarathustra is considered “a book for all and none” — anyone can reach self-actualization, but not everyone is willing to do the work and enter the void of deep thought.
It’s really up to you. Do you want to go on an adventure, even if it could mean that you will be sad, lonely, and afraid along the way? If you can stomach this short-term pain and discomfort, you could be in for a real treat.
“The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.”
Most of the people in my life think I’m either crazy, a wackadoo, or at the very least, a bit odd.
I mean, I travel around the country trying to choke people and break their joints, and then I write about everything I do on my little blog. To some people, it seems like I’m running away from something. I seem like a small man who is putting off his maturity in the name of his dreams.
I know what you’re thinking: did he just… call himself out?
Yes, yes I did. I did because I’ve thought about all of these things. I’ve done the inner work, the obnoxious introspection, and I’m done with it. I don't want to be a slave to my fears, my cognitive distortions, and even my thoughts. The more that I grow, the stranger I seem to those who have literally no idea what the hell I’m doing.
But it’s okay because I know that my quest is worth it.
“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”
People are scared.
People are scared to try new things, people are scared to fail, and most of all people are scared of the shame that comes with admitting that they can’t do something. But the first step to overcoming this fear is not bravery, it’s gratitude. If you can become grateful and accept the present, you then can develop the strength to become everything that you are meant to be.
A spoiled brat on a quest is still a spoiled brat. However, a grateful person on a quest can shock their environment in a way that not even the world knows is possible.
Gratitude is the only prerequisite for beauty and greatness.
“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you want more out of your life than you’re getting right now.
As much as I love the accepting nature of Eastern philosophy, I can’t help it: there is something in my bones that wants more than just the present. I yearn to change the future. I crave triumph, adventure, and experiences. I feel it in my body and in my heart. I want to do stuff, and I want the stuff I do to be absolutely epic. I want to live a life that I’m proud of.
There, I said it.
Maybe I’m just an unenlightened brat, but maybe there’s something to this desire for more than just a conventional life. Maybe the reason that I want more than a conventional life can offer is that conventional life is missing something.
Sometimes, you just have to punt the stoicism and run toward your heart.
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” — Henry David Thoreau
If you’re anything like me, you have an aching in your bones for adventure.
Maybe you’re a misfit who wants more of life than a 9–5, mortgage, and to watch your dreams fade into oblivion. Maybe you’re just sick of being told how to live and who to live for. Maybe you just want to go on an adventure.
You want to go on a quest, and you want to experience the depth of human emotions. You want to feel love, triumph, and connection, for real.
Nietzsche’s philosophy is profound to me because it reminds me of the grim reality and dark side of pursuing dreams and quests by offering the reader the tools to overcome the obstacles that they might encounter on these quests. When you begin a journey, you’ll experience all of the emotions I listed above, but you’ll also experience loneliness, fear, and anxiety. That’s just how quests work.
If you can accept that, you’re already ahead of “the mass of men”.
Whether your magnum opus is the next great American novel, a million-dollar business, or a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world championship, Nietzsche’s work exists to remind you that your personal triumph is possible. You just have to persist as strongly with your mind as you do with your body.
Other Articles Published in the Last 7 Days
Some Shameless Self-Promotion for the Road…
Do you love love love reading stories from me? I know at least some of you guys are Medium fans because you’re clicking on my “Other Articles” apart from this newsletter.
Maybe you want to purchase a Medium subscription, but the thought of contributing to a major corporation makes your blood boil.
However, Medium has recently started a referral program, meaning that if you sign up to become a Medium member ($5 per month) using my personal referral link, I (the creator), will receive half your monthly membership.
Given that some writers charge $10, $15, or even $20 dollars for monthly access to their newsletter, this deal is a steal. You’ll get access to all of my content (and the content of other great writers) for just $5 per month.
If this is something that peaks your fancy, use this referral link and sign up right now!
As always, if you enjoyed what you read, please share, tell your friends, or reshare the article from Medium. It helps me out a lot.
Wishing you the best,