A garage is full of old things we don’t need anymore. Most of the time, working appliances or equipment end up there as those are passe or simply “outdated.” But not every old thing should be kept just to gather dust.Even though born 2300 years ago, Greek philosopher named Epicurus has a wonderful – and timely – philosophy on happiness. It may be ancient but its utter simplicity is relevant; even today.
His philosophy focuses that all good and bad things come from sensations of pleasure and pain. All pleasure is good, and all pain is bad. In order to achieve tranquility or happiness, pleasure must be maximized and pain be minimal. To be put in practical terms, we should experience as little pain as possible while enjoying pleasure to the fullest extent.
Because desires are always part of pleasure and pain and in simplest terms evil, one can fulfill desire to gain pleasure or if a source of pain, eradicate it completely.
Epicurus divided desire in three categories: natural and necessary, natural and not necessary and unnatural and unnecessary.
Natural and necessary desires are those concerning something we can’t live without, and must work hard to fulfill these desires. It includes food to eat, clothing to protect our body, shelter for safety.
Natural and unnecessary desires are those that are not essential for living but give us pleasure. He expressed that these are not worthwhile since the pain experienced while attaining doesn’t commensurate to the pleasure felt. Examples of this includes the desire to have a family and living in a luxury residence.
On the other hand, unnatural and unnecessary desires are those predicted by society or false beliefs. These are often very difficult to attain and very easy to eliminate. These things makes someone greedy and with greediness, the more the merrier. But the more possessed the more to worry about. This includes power, richness, and glory.
But not all pain is evil and should be avoided. He emphasized that we should not avoid pain as it is inevitable. If experiencing pain may cause pleasure in the future, experiencing it is desirable. For example, if your present job gets the life out of you but can see yourself in the future as promoted or in a new career, pain experienced pays off to happiness.
Speaking of the future, he expressed that fear of the future is the worst enemy of happiness as it induces pain in form of worrying and distress. Practically speaking, someone with an optimistic attitude is more likely to be happy.
Moreover, death is part of the future. He said that no one should be afraid of death as it is only a state of no feelings, therefore, without feelings, there’s no pain. For him, death is nothing as humans do not want the longest life but the most pleasurable.
On a lighter side, he values friendship as the greatest source of happiness. Humans need interaction and lack of it causes solitude, fear. Even if a person has everything – luxuries, riches and the like – having no one whom to share it to is tragic. He urged that someone aim to find friends whom they can share happiness with. “Before eating your bread, look for someone with whom to eat it.” He said.
Indeed, Epicurus has a timeless philosophy that extends thousands of years up to this day of advanced technology he may never think about. Yet his teachings still manage to seep in the society we live today. How great is that?