The Art of Being is a book written by Erich Fromm, and it contains six different parts all about his thoughts on different subjects, however, there are a few points made in certain sections that stood out more than others. In the section “On the Art of Being”, Fromm poses a question about the meaning of life, how all living things want to live, but for what reason? When people were asked what they wanted in life the thing that was said most was “happiness”.
This answer is actually quite vague because everyone has a different version of what happiness really is. Fromm summed this up by saying “We are happy if our wishes are fulfilled, or to put it differently, if we have what we want” (Fromm, Erich. “On the Art of Being.
” The Art of Being, p. 2. ). He also goes on to talk about how whether the things people want are actually things they need in life, and if these needs or wants benefit one’s life by helping them grow or if they are detrimental and self-destructive. A good analogy of this that he used was about a gardener and a rosebush; the gardener needs to provide the rose certain things, such as good soil, water, and sunlight in order for it to stay alive and produce beautiful roses, however, it can’t have too little or too much of each thing because that will cause it to die or not produce the best roses. When it comes to “No Effort, No Pain”, another barrier to learning the art of being, people feel that they should be able to accomplish the most difficult of tasks with hardly any effort put into them. Fromm used the example of the education system to describe this and how in this system there is the way of thinking that is “make it easy and take it easy!” (Fromm, Erich. “On the Art of Being.
” The Art of Being, p. 25). Fromm points out that the main causes of this way of thinking are the increasing need for technicians and half-educated people working in the service industry with a “smattering of knowledge”, along with the belief that people do what they do because they like to, not because they are forced to.
Technology also aids in the idea of effortless work, because it allows for the production of goods with little to no effort at all. The idea of no-pain is related to no-effort. People have a phobia of pain and want to avoid anything that could lead to suffering both physically and mentally. However, if you want to learn how to do something and acquire the knowledge you have to suffer through small pains (Fromm, Erich. “On the Art of Being.
” The Art of Being, pp. 25-26). To Concentrate is the section that points out the trouble that people have when it comes to concentration and how they avoid it whenever possible. People like to do multiple things at once instead of focusing on one thing at a time. When someone is passionate about something they are willing to put forth the concentration it takes to do it, meaning, if someone has no interest in what they are doing, like reading a book for example, then they only don’t bother to concentrate on it and will only skim the pages. Fromm states that individuals are scared to concentrate on one specific thing because they don’t want to become fully absorbed into it and lose themselves, and that they think concentration takes too much effort and will tire them out. However, lack of concentration is what makes one become tired (Fromm, Erich. “On the Art of Being.
” The Art of Being, p.45). To learn how to concentrate a person has to learn how to be still by sitting down and being void of any other thoughts and focusing on what is happening in you. After learning to do that, the next step is adding in concentration exercises such as focusing on a coin and memorizing all of its details. Having patience during the process of learning to concentrate is key, because it isn’t easy to block out random thoughts that enter your mind or to get over the obstacle of not getting tired. Machine production has given people the mindset that it is easy to not fail, because machines do everything perfectly the first time, learning to tolerate failure is an important part of the process.
Sports such as Tennis, mountain climbing, and games like chess are helpful ways of concentration besides that are different than reading or writing (Fromm, Erich. “On the Art of Being.” The Art of Being, pp.
46-49). In Self-Analysis, Fromm questions whether a person can analyze themselves as a part of their meditation practice. A person should be first brought into the practice of self-analysis by working with a psychoanalyst who understands transtherapeutic analysis and what goals the person is trying to achieve because working with the wrong analyst can hurt them. The method the analyst uses is even more important than the first task of choosing the analyst.
The analyst should be willing to sit down for multiple hours with the patient in order to truly get a grasp on the person’s unconscious and then be able to confront the person with their findings. This process allows the patient to become more aware of their unconscious self so that they can start their daily self-analysis for the remainder of their life. Fromm believed that if transtherapeutic self-analysis was more well known, than more psychoanalysts would be willing to specialize in it. He also talked about some unfavorable factors for self-analysis, mainly the circumstances in a person’s life, such as a person who doesn’t have to work for a living because they have an inheritance compared to someone who has to work for everything they have. Fromm also mentions that if a person depends on their neurotic qualities as an asset to their livelihood and try to change through self-analysis, it can endanger their livelihood. Also mentioned was that intelligence does not seem to play the role of a decisive factor, if anything it adds to the resistance of being self-analyzed (Fromm, Erich.
“On the Art of Being.” The Art of Being, pp. 66-69). Erich Fromm made many great points in The Art of Being and through his explanations he made the fairly difficult topics he chose to write about easy to comprehend.