Nietzsche’s philosophy for youths – 5 ways to improve your life.


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Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche – one of the most influential and greatest minds of the 19th century, whose philosophical insights towards the human condition remain forever relevant. Especially to youths who aim for self-improvement. Nietzsche’s philosophy for youths is the act of SELBSTÜBERWINDUNG or SELF-OVERCOMING.

Nietzsche’s philosophy revolves around the idea of becoming the best version of yourself.

His most famous idea is the“Übermensch”, in English, it roughly translates to “Superman”. The simplified idea of the Übermensch is an individual that overcomes human emotions and shapes their destiny by the power of their will. According to Nietzsche, the Übermensch is a better and ideal self for people to strive towards.

Just like Superman (Clark Kent) is the idealized version of a superhero. So is Nietzsche’s idea of the Übermensch as the idealized version of who we are to become.

A comic book illustration of the Übermensch.

Nietzsche's philosophy for youths - 4 ways to improve your life.
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Nietzsche believed that to become the super version of yourself, you had to overcome and master your current self. Nietzsche’s philosophy for youths is for you to …

01. Become a complete version of yourself

Do you know that if you’ve never experienced failure, you cannot quantify what success means?

Nietzsche understood that a crucial step towards becoming your best self lies in the high and low experiences of life.

Examine the lives of the best and most fruitful people and peoples and ask yourselves whether a tree that is supposed to grow to a proud height can dispense with bad weather and storms … and violence do not belong among the favorable conditions without which any great growth even of virtue is scarcely possible.

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Nietzsche makes us understand outstanding achievements undergo great hardships.

Victor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search For Meaning, one of the most influential books in the United States, was once a prisoner in Auschwitz. Even after Albert Einstein came up with E=mc2, he struggled to get a job in physics.

To be the best version of yourself, you must undertake the journey between initial failure and subsequent success. As life’s greatest rewards come from brushing with adversity.

The most fulfilling human projects appeared inseparable from a degree of torment, the sources of our greatest joys lying awkwardly close to those of our greatest pains…

Alain de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy

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02. Avoid having a reactive life

Nietzsche’s philosophy for youths makes us understand that the idea of self-overcoming is to live life reactively.

If you have thoughts like these – “one day, I am going to go to the gym…”, “sometime soon I am going to stop eating junk food…”, “I wish I could be productive today, but I don’t have the time”.

Then you live a reactive life. Nietzsche makes us understand that self-overcoming stems from choosing the person you wish to become.

In the game of life, do not be a spectator, you are here to become, not observe. Take power into your hands and learn to focus on what you want to get out of life.

Nietzsche advises us to be more honest when choosing goals and have the courage to face reality and overcome challenges.

03. Find your Why

Ask yourself why you woke up on time this morning instead of sleeping in? Why do you care about the things you love? Nietzsche’s philosophy for youths is about finding your why, your purpose, your drive.

Finding your why provides the source of your intrinsic motivation. Rather than relying on external motivation, such as the desire for fame or wealth. Nietzsche lets us know that to become self-overcoming, your drive must come from within.

Because when your why comes from within, the status of fame, wealth and external attributes cease to define your purpose. Finding your why leads to self-fulfilment.

So what is your why? Your life purpose cannot be found unless you find yourself first.

Therefore, be specific. The more concrete your why — and the more it resonates within you — the better.

Nietzsche's philosophy for youths - 5 ways to improve your life.
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When you find your why you can tolerate any hardship life throws at you.

04. What does not kill you, makes you stronger

This quote you might recognize from pop songs or the beginning of the pandemic is attributed to Nietzsche.

Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker (in English – what does not kill me makes me stronger)

“Maxims and Arrows” section of Friedrich Nietzsche‘s Twilight of the Idols (1888)
Nietzsche's philosophy for youths - 5 ways to improve your life.

At a point in Nietzsche’s life, he was down on his luck. His books did not sell, he was going blind and extremely ill. But rather than succumbing to nihilism and focus on his suffering. Nietzsche decided that if this low point in his life could not kill him, he would make the most out of it.

It was during this period of his life that he was most productive and wrote some of his greatest books to date. The books of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Twilight of the Idols, and The Antichrist.

Nietzsche used his life as an example of what does not kill me makes me stronger. His philosophy explores that anyone can be handed a bad deck of cards in life. But we must understand that our struggles should not define us.

“you must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame;
how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Nietzsche likens us to the mythological Phoenix, which gets reborn from its ashes. The Phoenix going through the ordeal of being reborn in fire. It is the mentality we should hold on to when dealing with challenges in life – That the experience would reborn us.

If one learns to overcome in their greatest despair, then that individual can overcome any obstacle set forth in life.

We should all learn to treat life as a journey, and every event must be seen as an opportunity to learn something new.

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05. Seize the day

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche presents to us a thought experiment known as Eternal Recurrence.

The thought experiment goes like this – Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and realized you were reliving today, re-doing everything you had previously done today. If you realized you were in an eternal loop, would you be proud of the choices you made today?

If you answered no. Then Nietzsche’s Groundhog Day scenario proves that you do not live each day to the fullest, without regrets and lingering thoughts of “I wish I had done this or said this…”

Nietzsche implores you to seize your day, do things that are worth doing, not just for the day, but forever. Stop failing to act, separate yourself from regrets. Nietzsche’s philosophy for youths is about living in the moment to the fullest.

Self-overcoming is the ideal

Nietzsche’s philosophy for youths is all about becoming a better you. The idea of self-overcoming is not a sudden change in lifestyle, but an ongoing personal transformation journey.

Everyone has goals and ideas for success that they envision and strive towards, but they seldom have an improved identity that they wish to grow into. Nietzsche’s philosophy points out that it’s important to not wait around and let life happen to us. Instead, go out there and seize the day.

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