Minimizing Pain, Maximizing Joy on the Hidden Brain


In this NPR podcast from the Hidden Brain, the concepts of pain and joy are explored. It is a nice introduction to stoic philosophy. In the process they touch on the importance of valuing what you have and spending less time on negative visualization. At the core, this discussion is about being satisfied with simplicity and “doing what you can with what you have where you are”.

https://www.listennotes.com/embedded/e/7560bac009d24539aa41059f9e71520e/

I would love to hear what you think after listening to it. 

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Ingredients


Ah… the ingredients of happiness according to Epicurus:

1. Friends (companions)
2. Freedom (financially independent – not imprisoned by unbearable bosses)
3. Analyzed life (time to think, reflect, leave the distractions of the world)

It sounds like an easy enough recipe to follow, but I’m increasingly convinced that our modern lives are making it almost impossible for a person to achieve the happiness Epicurus spoke of.  Why?  Well, to begin with, lets look simply at freedom.  Epicurus suggests that we need to free ourselves from desire.  It sounds like an attainable goal, and yet, I find that it is a daily struggle because while I don’t need to be rich, I do want to be secure.

My DESIRE for security drives many of my decisions and keeps me imprisoned.  Why do I need a home in this neighborhood and not that neighborhood? Security.  Why do I need this car and not that car? Security. Why do I need to work fulltime instead of parttime? Security. Yes, the security that comes from living in a “good” neighborhood, the security that comes from owning a “reliable” car, the security that comes from having a job that provides health insurance and a retirement plan. I give up some of my freedom for the promise of security.

So, perhaps, at least from my perspective, it seems we need to add one more element to the list. Maybe if we could fulfill our need for:

1. Friends (companions)
2. Freedom (financially independent – not imprisoned by unbearable bosses)
3. Analyzed life (time to think, reflect, leave the distractions of the world)
4. Security

maybe then we could find the happiness that alludes us.

 

The best things in life AREN’T things!


Upon reflection, Marietta McCarty states:

“We overlook ‘ordinary’ joys completely when we overextend our reach into the world of things.”

This is one of the basic tenets of Epicurean philosophy.  In order to find the freedom he speaks of, we must stop letting ourselves become slaves to desire.

All you want is
What you can’t have
And if you just look around man
You see you got magic
So just sit back relax
Enjoy it while you still have it
Don’t look back on life man and only see tragic

Because you could be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better than
You can be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better

All the time while you’re looking away
There are things you can do man
There’s things you can say
To the the ones you’re with
With whom you’re spending your today
Get your gaze off tomorrow
And let come what may

Because you could be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better than
You can be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better

All I know is sometimes things can be hard
But you should know by now
They come and they go
So why, oh why
Do I look to the other side
‘Cause I know the grass is greener but
Just as hard to mow

Life’s not about what’s better than.

All you want is
What you can’t have
And if you just look around man
You see you got magic
So just sit back relax
Enjoy it while you still have it
Don’t look back on life man and only see tragic

Because
You could be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better than
You can be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better than
[x2]