Albert Camus on Happiness, Unhappiness, and Our Self-Imposed Prisons


“Those who prefer their principles over their happiness, they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness.”


“For what gives value to travel is fear. It breaks down a kind of inner structure we have. One can no longer cheat — hide behind the hours spent at the office or at the plant (those hours we protest so loudly, which protect us so well from the pain of being alone). I have always wanted to write novels in which my heroes would say: ‘What would I do without the office?’ or again: ‘My wife has died, but fortunately I have all these orders to fill for tomorrow.’ Travel robs us of such refuge.”


I relate strongly to these insights.  As I grow older, I realise how attached I am becoming to my routines; they become habits that I cling to and begin to cherish.  They tend to cement me to the familiar where I wallow in a trough of certainty and complacency.  Why is this a problem?  Seeing only the familiar often results in not seeing or hearing at all what’s actually there.  We live in concept, we see what we know is there and hear what we know is being spoken or brought forth.  As this article says, we build walls and encase ourselves in a “self-Imposed prison.”