Our existence can be so incredibly rich. We can create. We can destroy. We can do and think all sorts of new things into the world around us, and we can build for ourselves some beautifully complex lives – if only we view ourselves and our short time with a fair; appreciative; constructive; honest eye.
Woodrow Wilson, in his work “On Being Human,” covers a few key aspects of what it means “to be human” – and, furthermore, a few things to bear in mind if you want to do this thing “well”…
1. Humans are messy and we make mistakes. Though we may fancy ourselves rational, intelligent, steadfast individuals who are fully capable of making excellent decisions for ourselves (and probably others), the reality is that we aren’t.
“Man is much more than a rational being, and lives more by sympathies and impressions than by conclusions. It darkens his eyes and dries up the wells of his humanity to be forever in search of doctrine.”
2. Humans are “best” when genuine. Life is most meaningful when we saturate it with authenticity. The art of being human and the way to get “good” at life is to unfurl apprehensions and false pretenses; relinquish the “should’s” and “should not’s,” and fight for what feels real rather than flounder through what isn’t.
“Genuineness is not mere simplicity, for that may lack vitality… Genuineness is a quality which we sometimes mean to include when we speak of individuality. Individuality is lost the moment you submit to passing modes or fashions, the creations of an artificial society, and so is genuineness.”
3. Humans are privileged to be able to make our own decisions. We can build our lives however we want; this is something
“Each has that choice, which is man’s alone, of the life he shall live, and finds out first or last that the art in living is not only to be genuine and one’s own master…”
4. … But we are also responsible for making decisions well.
“Each has that choice, which is man’s alone, of the life he shall live, and finds out first or last that the art in living is not only to be genuine and one’s own master… but also to learn mastery in perception and preference.”
We are naturally drawn to things in life that appeal to our “humanness;” those things that are created by others who sit back into their own “humanness” in putting them together.
Our experiences are made better when they feel natural; easy. We like it when others present things to us in this way. And, in turn, our experience is enriched when we ourselves lean on our own “human” tendencies; when we develop and exercise an ease and naturalness in the way we interact with our day to day lives.