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What can Greek philosophy educate us in regards to the artwork of happiness?

How the concepts of an historical Greek thinker might assist you discover true interior pleasure at this time

For the overwhelming majority of individuals, the need to be pleased is without doubt one of the core motivators on this life.

Whether or not we consciously realise it or not, the rationale why we work in direction of sure monetary, profession, or private targets, is usually as a result of we imagine that reaching these items will assist us to grow to be happier than we at the moment are.

And it’s the identical story with {our relationships}, social actions, hobbies, pursuits – and even for once we would possibly resolve to only sit round the home all day lengthy, doing nothing.

Sure, we could generally appear to make choices that aren’t essentially good for us in any respect within the long-term. However, even right here, the core cause is actually because we’re merely pining for an as but unrealised type of happiness.

However that is the issue: the extra we pursue happiness in any of its varieties, the extra we realise simply how troublesome it’s to essentially maintain on to.


I’m certain we have now all skilled instances when that success we labored so onerous for seems to be, in some way, inferior to we all the time imagined it to be. Or when a short-term pleasure by no means fairly provides us that lasting happiness that we actually want.

So, with that being the case, it’s actually no shock that many people could really feel utterly misplaced when confronted with the query: “How can I be pleased?”

The reality is, happiness means various things to totally different folks – and (sadly) there isn’t any common key to discovering it.

Nevertheless, we will nonetheless give ourselves the very best probability of discovering actual happiness by approaching our life in a extra philosophical means. And, that is the primary function of this text. To dive a little bit deeper into the true ‘artwork of happiness’ by way of the insights of an historical Greek thinker often called Epicurus.

Now, simply as a fast aspect observe, when you have heard the title “Epicurus” or “Epicurean” earlier than, then it could effectively have been within the context of describing somebody who’s hedonistic, or dwelling a lifetime of extra.

And, in truth, even for the reason that very earliest days of Epicurean philosophy – which began in a modest backyard academy round 300 BC – this has been certainly one of its most typical misrepresentations. As a result of, in fact, if we stay our life solely with the objective of being as pleased as we presumably can, then there’s a good probability we would stray more and more in direction of a lifetime of limitless partying, overindulgence, and pleasure-seeking, forgoing all different private obligations.

Nevertheless, in terms of Epicurus’ actual ideas on dwelling a cheerful life, the message couldn’t be extra totally different. Sure, he advocated for happiness being our final objective in life. However he additionally insisted that the easiest way to really strategy this “pursuit of happiness” is all the time with a thinker’s mindset.

In different phrases, this isn’t about dwelling with complete abandonment. Moderately, it’s encouraging us to strategy each state of affairs – and each temptation – with a discerning thoughts. Asking: “Will this explicit pleasure actually deliver me lasting happiness? Or will it solely deliver momentary pleasure, which could result in unfavorable outcomes in the long term?”

For instance, let’s think about somebody who enjoys taking part in video video games of their spare time. In the event that they use this interest as a solution to join with associates, or to change off from the pressures of labor, then, clearly, it’s one thing that brings lasting happiness of their life. And, as such, can by all means be loved with out guilt.


Nevertheless, if the identical particular person begins changing into so consumed by their ‘enjoyment’ of the online game that they start taking part in obsessively, or staying up all hours of the day and night time, to the purpose that it negatively impacts their bodily or psychological wellbeing, and ruins their capability to perform at work or college then, clearly, the interest has grow to be extra detrimental to their total high quality of life. And, subsequently, must be stopped, as a result of it’s not useful to their long-term happiness.

So that you see, the problem isn’t with the video gaming itself, reasonably it’s the method through which such an exercise is loved. Very like how our favorite meals may be extraordinarily pleasing carefully, however makes us really feel fairly unwell if eaten to extra. Or how a purchasing journey is sweet for some modest retail remedy, however dangerous if we find yourself spending each penny we have now in consequence.

Primarily, all issues are about discovering steadiness. And, in that sense, the philosophy of Epicurus can nearly be pictured like a type of old school weighing scales – the place we are attempting to weigh what we do now, alongside whether or not it would really make our life happier within the long-term.

And bear in mind, there are a lot of events on this life the place our long-term happiness is definitely solely achieved after a interval of short-term discomfort. For instance, when the wrestle of train can lead us to reaching a more healthy physique. Or, when a interval of intense anxiousness and nervousness comes at the side of our pursuit of that dream job, or new relationships.

If we have been dwelling for short-term pleasure alone, we’d most likely keep away from all of these items from the outset! However, if we consider Epicurus’ mindset of: “Is that this going to be good for my total happiness within the long-term?” then, we will really begin to discover pleasure in discomfort, too. As a result of we all know that it’s all a part of a course of – main us to one thing higher.

So, as soon as once more, having happiness as our elementary objective in life isn’t one thing to really feel responsible about. The truth is, it’s important to our very nature.

However, for that very cause, it’s much more vital to pursue it extra mindfully.

And to do not forget that actual, lasting happiness is not only about short-term materials pleasures. Moderately, it’s one thing a lot broader. It’s present in issues like optimistic relationships, pursuing a vocation, contributing one thing significant to the world, or, most significantly, discovering a way of contentment inside ourselves.

As a result of, in any case, if happiness is our elementary objective – then it should even be our interior actuality, too.

Positive Recharge
Positive Recharge
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