Being happy with little
I’ve always been a happy person, since I was a child very few things could make me sad. When I grew up, I realized that not everyone seemed to be as happy as I was. From that moment I started to search the reason behind my constant happiness. Although I don’t know why I’m such a happy person, I think I have good advices for those who are struggling with happiness.
In this article, I’m trying to explain with the help of the Greek philosopher Epicurus why being happy is easier than you think and how you could achieve happiness.
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher who founded his own philosophy school called Epicureanism. He was known for eating simple meals and allowing slaves and women to join their school.
According to Epicurus, we could categorize all human desires into a hierarchy with 3 levels:
- Natural and necessary desires. Things like eating and sleeping are clear examples of that. They are difficult to eliminate, have a natural limit and are fairly easy to satisfy.
- Natural and non-necessary desires. They are harder to satisfy and most times they require more money. An example of that is eating expensive meals, you have to eat food to survive, but there’s no real need for this food to be very expensive.
- Vain desires. Things like power, fame, richness, recognition… The problem with them is that they’re impossible to fully satisfy as there’s no natural limit, so you enter a loop of wanting more and more.
The point of Epicurus is that we can achieve happiness by just satisfying our natural and necessary desires and, as those desires are easy to satisfy, being happy is also easy.
I assume that most of the people reading this have their basic needs covered, and some of you may still be feeling unhappy. So, why are you feeling unhappy then? The answer is that you may be pursuing the wrong types of desires. Maybe you want fancier food, expensive clothes or more money. The issue is that when you’re desiring something, and you can’t fully satisfy this desire, you feel depressed. The solution is simple to understand and hard to apply, you have to get used to being happy with what you have and who you are right now.
“Being happy is knowing how to be content with little.” - Epicurus
As life goes on, our definition of happiness changes with us. When we are kids we’re happy by nature and our sadness is temporary and associated with basic needs, we want food or friends to play with. As we grow up, we tend to add more things into our own definition of happiness. By doing so, we’re making happiness something hard to achieve. Without noticing we’ve put barriers to our own happiness, now we must be in an awesome relationship, have a lot of money and be famous on Instagram to feel genuinely happy. If you feel identified with this story, you must remember yourself that the fact of being alive is enough motive for feeling happy now. At the end, happiness could only be found within you.
In conclusion, what should you do to recover your happiness?
- As Epicurus said: “be happy with little”. This doesn’t mean completely abstaining from pleasure, just reduce the amount of fancy stuff that you have in your life and get used to live simply enjoying every single things that you do.
- Be aware that our definition of happiness changes naturally, but you have to remind your brain that being alive is enough motive for being happy.
Thanks for reading, I hope you find these advices useful.