Is it worth living? That was the question that Albert Camus raised again and again. After analyzing the contemporary individual, inserted in the bureaucratic machinery of our society and understanding his spiritual and intellectual contradictions, this philosopher concluded that many people lack illusions, so their existence ends up being absurd.
When man can no longer bear that level of absurdity in his life, he rebels. That is the reason, according to Camus, why riots and revolutions occur with some regularity. However, the philosopher also thought that organized revolutions are not the solution to the absurd world in which we live, but that there is a need for a change at the individual level that can confer meaning to human existence. Different motivational quotes by Albert Camus summarize his thoughts and become a warning sign for each and every one of us.
Albert Camus motivational quotes to rethink the life we live
1. “Nobody realizes that some people exspend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
Everyone wants to be unique and special – but within normalcy. Getting out of normality, escaping its retaining walls formed by social conventions, actually produces fear. That is the reason why so many people follow the fashions and adapt to the different traditions that society built for them, whether they like it or not. Thus they end up prisoners of a paradox, suffocated by a double mental tie: to be special within normality. That trap ends up draining them a very valuable energy that they could use in developing their authentic “ego”, instead of pursuing a contradiction that inevitably leads them to a dead end.
2. “We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking.”
This quote by Albert Camus refers to the habit of making rash decisions, acting without thinking, and only after reflecting on the consequences of our actions, when we can do little or nothing because it is impossible to go back. The philosopher was referring to our tendency to react instead of responding, guided by emotions and stereotypes instead of taking time to analyze the best possible response.
3. “I understood that there are two truths, one of which must never be told.”
Reality is not flat or linear. The truth – or at least something similar – is usually halfway between two narratives that are often radically opposed. Every event has at least two versions, two ways of being lived by the people involved. Just listening to the official version – or just one of the people involved – implies let the others manipulate us, being aware that there is a more uncomfortable and less convenient reality that has been banished from the narrative.
4. “The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.”
Bright minds have their own light, so they find it very difficult – when not impossible – to stick to the conventions that dictate what is right and what is not. The differences between right and wrong usually denote a dichotomous thought that does not include the true complexity of life, where nothing is black and white, everything has nuances. That is why Albert Camus believed that behind the dogmatic proposals, often hide the reductionist minds that have not managed to escape the limits imposed by the society in which they had to live.
5. “For there is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving”.
With this phrase, Albert Camus puts the focus on our ability to love. Many people seek love, want to be loved, but never question their ability to love. Actually, whatever we look for in others, we must first develop it in ourselves. And love is no exception. Although the ideal scenario is to love and be loved, we must not forget that give love, even if we are not reciprocated, is a real emotional adventure.
6. “But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?”
Most people want to be happy, but they continually postpone that happiness until they reach their goals. They subordinate happiness to find the perfect match, the perfect job, the perfect house…. Actually, these are excuses to delay a happiness that is often within reach. After all, being happy is not a lottery, it is a personal decision we make every day.
7. “All the misfortunes of men come from not speaking clearly.”
Unsaid things, half truths, insinuations, deafening silences … Many times the complexity of human communication plays against us causing more problems than it solves. A simple strategy to clear doubts and avoid conflicts is to be honest about our needs, desires and opinions. It is not about practicing sincericide, but when one speaks from respect for the other and assertiveness, honesty is promoted, so that there is more room for dialogue and understanding.
8. “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
“The society of money and exploitation has never been responsible, as far as I know, for freedom and justice to reign”, wrote Albert Camus, who also believed that freedom is a fuse that is within each of us. Like Thoreau, Camus thought it is difficult to change the world, but we can always change our world. And that little/big act of rebellion can be the torch that illuminates, guides and motivates the others.
9. “They rule today … because you obey!”
For Albert Camus, “nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.” That is why he always tried to awaken the individual awareness. In fact, he also affirmed that “With rebellion, awareness is born.” Awareness is not to detect the existence of our “ego” but to understand how much of that “ego” is a social construction. Therefore, deep down, being fully aware of ourselves is a revolutionary act, a rebellion against all those dogmas and rules that prevent us from being ourselves.
10. “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and just be my friend.”
This is one of Albert Camus most famous quotes due to the valuable message that it contains: every relationship that aspires to endure over time has to be established between equals, must connect two essences that feed each other in order to grow, each one in its own direction and according to its needs. So damaging can be to impose ourselves on the other as becoming someone dependent on him. The key lies in being two individuals who respect each other, leaving room for the other to be who he is.