The Greek philosopher Epicurus explained that chasing vain desires such as money and fame is impossible to satisfy. Since there is actually never a satiable limit, how much is enough? How much fame is enough? How much money is enough? In fact, many people that most would consider rich or famous might not actually consider themselves to be “enough”. Therefore it is completely meaningless to chase these things because it will an endless chase.
“The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity.”– Epicurus
Good friendships provide okayness
He also explained that when we chase vain ideals, what we are actually looking for is the approval and acceptance of others. But there are much better and simpler ways to achieve that. Having good friends can provide love and acceptance generously and completely for free. And there are so many people out there so potential friendships are plenty so it’s not even that hard to get!
I’ve found this lesson to be true in my own life. Whenever I stray too much away from spending time with good friends it is easy for me to lose track of myself. Thinking that I need to be more, or unsure of who I am. We are social creatures and having good people by your side is grounding and make everything just feel more “okay”. It is also a lot of fun to have good friends. Some of my best memories are shared with friends!
“Of all the means to insure happiness throughout the whole life, by far the most important is the acquisition of friends.”– Epicurus
I think sometimes, it can be easy to lose track of how important it is to have friends. Especially when getting busy in adulthood with jobs and families. When I see my friends regularly, I’m just so much more happy and satisfied.
Plenty is available when appreciating simplicity
Epicurus also taught how the things that are good in life are plenty if you learn to appreciate simplicity. He taught a minimalistic lifestyle, something that many of us are drawn to today. It is easy to get lost in consumerism and always wanting more, but it doesn’t actually really bring that much meaning.
To a certain extent material things definitely matter, no question about it. Having food on your table, a roof over your head, and feeling secure. However, having more can quickly stop adding much. It can also be very limiting to have and want many things because it takes so much time and resources to acquire and maintain them.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”– Epicurus
I’m not at all about excessively depriving myself. I don’t want to live a very stoic lifestyle. Some people are more drawn to that. But I want to have plenty of the things that are important to me, such as time with friends and family, health and nutritious food, laughter, self-understanding, mental clarity, being in nature, and having the ability to explore. Living more simply and minimalistic allows for more resources for this.
An examined life
Epicurus also taught the peace that comes from living an examined life. It’s helpful to reflect on yourself to avoid getting lost in unresolved trauma, fears, or unhelpful thought patterns. I think getting to know yourself adds more freedom to understand what you value. Epicurus said that two very helpful tools for living an examined life are journaling as well as talking with friends. I’ve found this so true in my own life.
“He who has peace of mind disturbs neither himself nor another.”– Epicurus
I find it incredibly fascinating how such an ancient philosophy is so highly relevant in modern life. I have found Epicurean philosophy a helpful guide to keep me on track for how to live a good life, without getting lost in meanless, vain, pursuits and in living a more intentional and happier life.
https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/114041.Epicurus. July 9th 2021.