How To Be Happy: Epicurus Had The Answer 1700 Years Ago

How To Be Happy

How To Be Happy: It’s Simpler Than You Think

For Epicurus, the most pleasant life is one where we abstain from unnecessary desires and achieve an inner tranquillity (ataraxia) by being content with simple things, and by choosing the pleasure of philosophical conversation with friends over the pursuit of physical pleasures like food, drink, and sex Full Story

Despite being in pain he enjoyed the last days of his life instead of focussing on the pain

I have written this letter to you on a happy day to me, which is also the last day of my life. For I have been attacked by a painful inability to urinate, and also dysentery, so violent that nothing can be added to the violence of my sufferings. But the cheerfulness of my mind, which comes from the recollection of all my philosophical contemplation, counterbalances all these afflictions. And I beg you to take care of the children of Metrodorus, in a manner worthy of the devotion shown by the young man to me, and to philosophy.

He goes on to state that the best form of Pleasure is Happiness

“Pleasure is our first and kindred good. It is the starting point of every choice and of every aversion, and to it, we always come back, inasmuch as we make feeling the rule by which to judge of every good thing.”

“When we say, then, that pleasure is the end and the aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do through ignorance, prejudice, or willful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking bouts and of revelry, not sexual lust, not the enjoyment of fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, that produces a pleasant life. It is rather sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs that lead to the tumult of the soul.”

Epicurus truly had deep insights in terms of how to be happy and now one could live a meaningful and peaceful life.

Some Background information on Epicurus

Laërtius, claims he was “a most prolific author and eclipsed all before him in the number of his writings: for they amount to about three hundred rolls, and contain not a single citation from other authors” – his influence has proved to be monumental for those willing to carry on the dialogue he started.

Foolish, therefore, is the man who says that he fears death, not because it will pain when it comes, but because it pains in the prospect. Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not. Full Story 

Who was Epicurus

Epicurus, (born 341 BCSamos, Greece—died 270, Athens), Greek philosopher, author of an ethical philosophy of simple pleasure, friendship, and retirement. He founded schools of philosophy that survived directly from the 4th century BC until the 4th century AD.

Epicurus was born on the island of Samos of Athenian parents who had gone there as military settlers. His father, a schoolteacher, was named Neocles, his mother Chairestrate; both were of the same village, the deme Gargettos. According to his own report, Epicurus began his study of philosophy at the age of 14. One account has him turning to philosophy when his schoolmaster could not explain the concept of chaos in Hesiod, an early Greek philosophical poet.

His first master is said to have been the Platonist Pamphilus of Samos. Much more significant, however, is the report that Epicurus was for three years (327–324) a student in the Ionian city of Teos, where his teacher was Nausiphanes, a disciple of the naturalistic philosopher Democritus. It may have been from this source that Epicurus’ atomistic theory came, which he used not as a means of studying physics but as the basis for a philosophical system that ultimately sought ethical ends. Full Story

Epicurus: The Master On How to Be Happy

Epicurus more than most knew the secrets of how to be happy and if one is honest there is no secret for the answer is really simple. In summary, one should be happy with what has, look for simple pleasures such as maintaining good relationships with friends and not fixating on objects that are out of one’s reach.

Given that the average person today is better off than most kings from time’s gone by, it is amazing that the level of happiness continues to trend downwards. Hence, the only conclusion a rational person can come to is that those that chase more are in fact, less happy than those that are happy with their current situation.

Secondly, money is a poor substitute for solid friendships as humans are social beings and other than the superficial goods money can buy, it does not bestow any great benefits after a certain point. In other words, if you have enough money to satisfy your basic needs and pleasures, having ten times more is not get to make you feel 10 times happier.

In fact, the opposite is more likely as can be envisioned by looking at the childish behavioural patterns of today’s rich. In sum one should live every day like it’s their last, for one day it will be and one does not want to be in the position of saying “I wish I could have done more or lived better”. Tomorrow never comes and yesterday is always filled with regret. Focus on the now, for that is all you have

 

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