John Gray’s latest book Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life is just out. Bellow is Gray’s summary of ten cat lessons on how to live well.
1. Never try to persuade human beings to be reasonable
Trying to persuade human beings to be rational is like trying to teach cats to be vegans. Human beings use reason to bolster whatever they want to believe, seldom to find out if what they believe is true. This may be unfortunate, but there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it. If human unreason frustrates or endangers you, walk away.
2. It is foolish to complain that you do not have enough time
If you think you do not have enough time, you do not know how to pass your time. Do what serves a purpose of yours and what you enjoy doing for its own sake. Live like this, and you will have plenty of time.
3. Do not look for meaning in your suffering
If you are unhappy, you may seek comfort in your misery, but you risk making it the meaning of your life. Do not become attached to your suffering, and avoid those who do.
4. It is better to be indifferent to others than to feel you have to love them
Few ideals have been more harmful than that of universal love. Better cultivate indifference, which may turn into kindness.
5. Forget about pursuing happiness, and you may find it
You will not find happiness by chasing after it, since you do not know what will make you happy. Instead, do what you find most interesting and you will be happy knowing nothing of happiness.
6. Life is not a story
If you think of your life as a story, you will be tempted to write it to the end. But you do not know how your life will end, or what will happen before it does. It would be better to throw the script away. The unwritten life is more worth living than any story you can invent.
7. Do not fear the dark, for much that is precious is found in the night
You have been taught to think before you act, and often that may be good advice. Acting on how you feel at the moment may be no more than obeying worn-out philosophies you have accepted without thinking. But sometimes it is better to follow an inkling that glimmers in the shadows. You never know where it may lead you.
8. Sleep for the joy of sleeping
Sleeping so that you can work harder when you wake up is a miserable way to live. Sleep for pleasure, not profit.
9. Beware anyone who offers to make you happy
Those who offer to make you happy do so in order that they themselves may be less unhappy. Your suffering is necessary to them, since without it they would have less reason for living. Mistrust people who say they live for others.
10. If you cannot learn to live a little more like a cat, return without regret to the human world of diversion
Living like a cat means wanting nothing beyond the life you lead. This means living without consolations, and that might be too much for you to bear. If so, take up an old-fashioned religion, preferably one that abounds in rituals. If you cannot find a faith that suits you, lose yourself in common life. The excitement and disappointments of romantic love, the pursuit of money and ambition, the charades of politics and the clamour of the news will soon banish any sense of emptiness.