While I’m recovering from an intense but seemingly short-lived cold, I got out the TV and this morning I stumbled on a british documentary about the greek philosopher Epicurus. He lived from 341-270 BCE on the island of Samos, and did a lot of thinking on the subject of personal happiness, ie. what do we really need to be happy? His thinking is amazingly relevant here 2000 years later.
One thing he came up with was:
…the so-called ‘four-part cure’, the Epicurean remedy for the epidemic sickness of human anxiety; as a later Epicurean puts it, “Don’t fear god, don’t worry about death; what’s good is easy to get, and what’s terrible is easy to endure.”
I like these four principles – following them will keep you safely grounded in the life you’re living right now, and strengthen your ability to believe that “everything will work out just fine”. While this belief may be right or wrong, it does tend to instill people with a confidence and serenity, that better allows them to make things turn out right.
Epicurus emphasized pleasure – in moderation. Fine foods, sure, but no more than you need. He believed, that we don’t need much to be happy – mostly friends and contemplation (philosophy). There’s an excellent and comprehensive Epicurus reference at epicurus.info.