Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, has lived a pretty unconventional life. Some might say he's living the dream, others might argue he's all that's wrong with society.
Whether you love him or hate him, however, it's impossible to deny that he's had an enormous impact on American society and culture. Throughout his life, he's fought against sexual repression, censorship and discrimination. Indeed, Hefner has been a champion for liberal values and tolerance for decades.
He helped fuel the sexual revolution in the 1960s, and has been a fervent advocate for women's reproductive rights his entire life. Today, Hefner is also an outspoken proponent of same-sex marriage, stating, "The fight for gay marriage is, in reality, a fight for all of our rights."
When Hefner started Playboy in 1953, the United States was an extremely conservative and closed society. Hence, the magazine helped change the conversation surrounding sex and women.
Moreover, Playboy has never just been about sex. Believe it or not, some of the greatest thinkers of the past 100 years wrote for Playboy, even Nobel Prize winners.
It's published articles by everyone from Carl Sagan to Allen Ginsburg to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Furthermore, it's featured interviews from the likes of Steve Jobs, Vladimir Nabokov and George Carlin, among others.
Correspondingly, as Charles Taylor of Salon notes:
In its heyday, from roughly the mid-'60s to the mid-'70s, Playboy was one of the great American magazines in an era of great American magazines... The big cliché about Playboy has long been that it benefited from 'the Sexual Revolution.' Duh. But the reasons it flourished went well beyond that.
Thus, while many people are intolerant of Hefner's viewpoints and lifestyle, he has continuously proven to be an advocate for a more open and accepting society.
While both he and Playboy are certainly worthy of criticism, Hefner stands as a testament to the fact that there's no point in letting our critics dictate our emotions. You can't please everyone all the time.
Accordingly, here are five quotes from Hefner that prove life is about ignoring the haters:
1. "It's good to be selfish. But not so self-centered that you never listen to other people."
No one is right all of the time. None of us are infallible. We all have to share this world. A certain level of selfishness in life is practical, but don't isolate yourself.
Give back when it's appropriate, and remain open to the opinions of others. It's impossible to know everything.
Humans are inherently social creatures. All of the gold in the world means nothing without others to share it with.
2. "If you let society and your peers define who you are, you're the less for it."
The greatest individuals in history refused to let social constraints dictate their paths in life. Don't let the world define you; mold your own reality.
The only constant in life is change. Becoming too attached to the current state of things is futile. Embrace the change.
Don't let anything or anyone make you feel inferior. Ignore the naysayers and pessimists. Happiness is a choice. Move forward in life with indefatigable optimism.
3. "Life is too short to be living somebody else's dream."
We only get one life, don't waste it. Pursue your dreams unapologetically.
Don't let anyone set limits or boundaries around you. If you do, you only have yourself to blame.
Following in someone else's footsteps is a waste of the precious time we have. Forge your own path. Do what's never been done.
4. "Loneliness doesn't have much to do with where you are."
Loneliness is not a feeling, it's a state of mind. Learn to enjoy time with yourself. Truly love yourself. In the process, you will never be alone.
The late, great, Robin Williams once stated, "I used to think the worst thing in life is to end up alone. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone."
Indeed, being alone does not have to make you feel lonely. It's not where you are that makes you lonely, it's who you are and who you're with.
Surround yourself with people who enrich everything about your existence. Revel in the simplicity of this gift we call life, and celebrate every single breath.
5. "If you don't have a sense of humor about life and yourself, then you are old."
Laugh as often as possible, particularly at yourself. If you can't laugh at yourself, you're taking life far too seriously.
We all make mistakes. We all do extraordinarily dumb things. Don't get down on yourself, there's absolutely no point.
Negativity is a worthless emotion, and it will get you absolutely nowhere. As Paul McCartney once wrote, "Take a sad song and make it better."
Life is absurd, that's precisely what makes it so inexplicably amazing. Keep your head up, and smile at the randomness of it all. You can't see the great things ahead of you if you're staring at the ground.
Citations: CNN, When Playboy was hot (Salon), Read Playboy u2026 for the Interviews (Slate), What has Playboy ever done for free speech? (BBC), Hugh Hefner: Gay rights under u2018assaultu2019 (Politico)