Søren Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813–November 11, 1855), considered the first true existentialist philosopher, remains a source of enduring wisdom on everything from the psychology of bullying to the vital role of boredom to why we conform. In a chapter of the altogether indispensable 1843 treatise Either/Or: A Fragment of Life (public library), thirty-year-old Kierkegaard writes: Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work. In a latter chapter, titled “The Unhappiest Man,” he considers how we grow unhappy by fleeing from presence and busying ourselves with the constant pursuit of some as-yet unattained external goal: The unhappy person is one who has his ideal, the content of his life, the fullness of his consciousness, the essence of his being, in some manner outside of himself. The unhappy man is always absent from himself, never present to himself. But one can be absent, obviously, either in the past or in the future. This adequately circumscribes the entire territory of the unhappy consciousness. The unhappy one is absent… It is only the person who is present to himself that is happy.