Epicurus 2012?


There was a recent article in the New York Times that reminded me ever so much of Epicurus and his premise that material wealth does not bring happiness.  A nice little reminder that more things will not guarantee a happy life.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/opinion/sunday/dont-indulge-be-happy.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

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Okay, I get it, now what?


So, I’ve read Epicurus, and I think I get it.  Our happiness comes from having friends, freedom, and reflection.  Or perhaps better framed, happiness will come our way only when we have these things.  But can it really be that simple?

Let’s start with friends.  It is easy enough to have chums you enjoy a beer with after work, but finding the kind of friends Epicurus was talking about, how easy is that? Or am I simply setting the bar too high.  Maybe he was talking about the guys at the bar?

And freedom. Freedom from what? From desire.  Easier said than done in our consumer world, but certainly worth working towards.

Finally, there is the reflection part.  This one would be easy enough to fulfill if only I didn’t have to work for a living.

So, what is the answer? How can we find the essence of the kind of life Epicurus champions while living in the modern world?

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]