Human nature has patterns which repeat throughout history.

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History has its ebbs and flows. Cycles repeat, patterns emerge. Certain thinkers have tried to look at history, and determine which processes are at work. George Hegel, influential 19th century German philosopher, declared that in society you have two groups of people, the oppressed and the oppressors. For him, struggle was the natural course of action.

In the German context of his time, he labeled the Catholics as the oppressors, and the Protestants as those being oppressed. This concept of two groups battling each other out was then picked up by Karl Marx, and in the form of classes became…

Come in for a haircut, leave with brain surgery

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Imagine going to your friendly neighborhood barber. Sitting you on a chair in front of him, he asks what kind of service he can provide today. Do you want a haircut? Perhaps shave off your beard? Or maybe can I interest you in some brain surgery?

That’s a pretty reasonable list of services, right? Actually, it is, if you are a medieval barber-surgeon. I am not making this up. Up until the 19th century, you could go to your barber and get a lot of other things done while getting your haircut. …

The best way to overcome life’s challenges.

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French philosopher Michel de Montaigne spoke truth when he quipped that the utility of living isn’t a matter of the length of time, but instead its use.

“The utility of living consists not in the length of days, but in the use of time. A man may have lived long, and yet lived but a little.” — Michel de Montaigne

A prolific writer, de Montaigne invented a new form of writing: the essay. From the French word “essayer” or “to try”, the genre reflects his way of discovering the world. …

Based on ancient philosophy, modern psychology, and common sense.

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I have realized life is complicated. When I was little, I thought I would have things figured out by now. Unfortunately, I am still quite clueless. Sometimes I think I am close to discovering how things work, but then one little event makes this ivory tower of impressions come crashing down.

At times, I have felt powerless. Humans want to feel in control. When this sense of power over things slips away, much distress can occur in the mind. My life has been severely marked by a depression which stems from this. Some people might label it as just “sadness”…

Human evolution is much stranger than you can imagine

Neandertal (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Imagine a family secret hidden for almost one hundred years. In 1933, a local worker laboring on the construction of a bridge in Japanese-occupied Manchukuo came across a bizarre-looking skull. Instead of turning it into the authorities, he decided to hide it in an abandoned well. There it lay, until in 2018 the dying man revealed the location to his grandkids.

When the scientists got hold of the skull, they were amazed. It showed characteristics that were primitive, but also close to those of modern humans. In fact, they determined that whoever it belonged to was more closely related to…

The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves.

You are the master of your soul.

“The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves.” — Sophocles

As the ancient Greek playwright Sophocles so masterfully observed more than two and a half millennia ago, the greatest griefs people suffer are those of their own making. This is not to say there aren’t objective outside factors that can trigger tears running down your cheeks, but the biggest misfortunate is often caused by your own choices and mindsets.

Nelson Mandela, South African freedom fighter, spent decades languishing in an island prison, cut-off from the outside world. Yet somehow he was able to turn that experience into a positive thing…

Most people find too little beautiful.

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“Find things beautiful as much as you can, most people find too little beautiful.” — Vincent van Gogh

Legend has it that the island of Nisyros was formed during a fight between Poseidon and the giant Polybotes. Apparently the sea-god cut off a part of the nearby island of Kos and threw it at his rival, trapping him underneath the boulder. Thus this rock in the middle of the sea was born.

Wanting to explore this mythical playground of the gods, I put the island on my itinerary while vacationing in Greece two years ago. …

Everyone has a darkness inside them.

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There is a darkness in the human soul. All throughout history you have instances of people living next to each other seemingly in peace, only for madness to strike. In a flashing instant, neighbor would be slaughtering neighbor, formerly decent folk calling for the extermination of the enemy, hatred growing in the hearts of all.

Unimaginable evil can take over suddenly, consuming everything in its path. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian writer and persistent explorer of the darkness of the human soul, noted that no animal can ever be as cruel as a man. …

Watch out for the quotes you put in your articles

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What do these 3 quotes have in common?

Quote 1:

“Never respond to rudeness. When people are rude to you, they reveal who they are, not who you are.”

Quote 2:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Quote 3:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

They all sound very nice and inspirational. Great quotes to include in any type of self-help article you are writing, right? The alleged author of the first one is Buddha, of the second one Aristotle, and…

Your mind is a superpower, but you need a little push to turn it on.

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The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is located in a wilderness area far away from civilization. Only accessible by a small dirt road, it was founded in 1967 by Shunryu Suzuki, a Japanese monk recently arrived in California. It was the first Zen Buddhist monastery set up outside of Asia.

There is an interesting story associated with Shunryu Suzuki and the monastery. One day many years ago, a group of his disciples went up a long mountain road in order to work on a construction project. When they got to their destination, they suddenly realized that they couldn’t actually do anything…

Peter Burns

Peter is extremely curious and wants to know how everything works. He blogs at Renaissance Man Journal (

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