How to Be an Epicurean?
Nowadays in this age information, self-help literature is dominating the surface of the internet. There you can find a wide variety of inspirational and motivational teachings and lectures that are said to help you grow as a person.
If you examine them carefully, most of them teach people how to become successful in life. Interestingly, they define success as becoming wealthy or competitive in a given career.
There is nothing wrong in such a direction if it truly makes you happy in your life. However, such teaching is like a double-edged sword. It can make you happy or anxious.
But there is one self-help philosophy that can teach you how to become prudent in handling such endeavor - this is Epucurean philosophy.
If you understand what Epicureanism is, you will also understand that it is not enough you only understand it. You will then find yourself inspired and motivated to apply it because Epicureanism is not just a philosophy but rather a way of life.
So how to become an Epucurean in the practical sense?
First of all, let me tell you what Epicureanism is not. Since the time of Epicurus until now, there have been predominant misconceptions about how it is to become an Epicurean.
Epicureanism is not about:
- Luxury food or dining pleasure.
- Over indulgence and merry making.
- Asceticism, cynicism, or a sort of philosophy for hermits.
- Pursuing pleasure by eliminating pains in the body and troubles in the mind.
- The use of prudence and wisdom in choosing which pleasure is greater in the long run.
- Getting rid of unnecessary and vain desires that result in anxiety and greater troubles in the mind.
Pursuing pleasure by eliminating pains in the body and troubles in the mind.
The key to a happy life is peace of mind. The reason why we want to be successful in life is we want to satisfy our desire to be free from worries and fears.
Becoming financially stable is not a bad idea. If that would mean so much wealth, you would have to determine how much wealth is enough for you. The problem comes when you don’t know how wealthy you should become in order to be happy.
Troubles in the mind such as worries and anxieties intensify when you don’t set a goal that speaks for your satisfaction. You will end up fighting for nothing and losing for nothing.
Do not forget that you want to be successful simply because you want to have peace of mind. You work hard for your career in order to get yourself some sort of security in times of uncertainty. Therefore, the bottom line of all your work is to free your mind and your body from all sorts of trouble.
When you don’t have any limit to what you want, you will find yourself unhappy with everything you do and everything you have regardless of your achievements. Besides, success is knowing the end of your endeavor to succeed.
Always remember that successful people know they are successful when they are already satisfied and grateful with whatever they have achieved. They are at peace and free from worries and anxieties. Therefore, satisfaction, not an endless desire, is their standard of success.
Ask yourself this question: Do you need so much wealth, power, or fame in order to have peace of mind?
The use of prudence and wisdom in choosing which pleasure is greater in the long run.
To be an Epicurean, you don’t necessarily look for immediate pleasures. There are times that you skip or sacrifice some lower pleasures to achieve a much greater pleasure in the future.
This principle is much applicable at work or in every project you are preoccupied with. Working hard for something is not pleasurable. You get stressed by external pressures from your boss, your customers, your family, and the society as a whole.
Meeting the expectation of others adds more troubles in your mind, but your own expectation from your own work produces much more anxiety. All these pains in your mind and in your body are the risks you have to face when working for a much greater pleasure such as being successful in something.
It is risky because not achieving such goal will not only deprive you of the greater pleasure you want to achieve but will, instead, give you a much greater pain afterward.
Being prudent and careful in desiring something is crucial. There is no limit to what you can desire as long as you can easily get it in the long run, or you are sure you can get it no matter how hard and painful the process is.
Prudence is nothing but wisdom in your judgment and choices. You can only be wise when you know which desire will surely give you happiness or pain in the end.
Getting rid of unnecessary and vain desires that result in anxiety and greater troubles in the mind.
Excessive wealth, power, and fame are some of the most common types of vain or empty desires. They are vain and empty since the pleasure we get from them exists only in our imagination and not in our body.
For instance, you have a nice and decent home that protects your body from harsh weather condition and environmental degradation. But having three or more country estates or mansions will not any more increase such bodily protection. So what’s wrong with this?
The burden of having excessive wealth increases troubles in your mind. Such possessions are too great for you to ignore and waste them.
As a result, you protect them so much until you do it at the expense of your tranquility. You might also even get too paranoid that anyone would plan to break into your properties. This is obviously a lost of peace of mind.
This is also true with too much power or fame. To be standing on a pedestal will only satisfy your ego for awhile but not forever. Why? It is because ego is never satisfied. Therefore, vain and empty desires are the desires of ego, and these are not necessary for your body and mind.
This means that Epicureanism is not truly an egoistic hedonism as what others believe and understand. In fact, it promotes the practice of virtue such as temperance and courage being useful in achieving happiness and greater pleasure.
You can be as wealthy, as powerful, and as famous as what your body and mind necessitate. Desire a drop of water and enjoy so much more when you get a gallon of it, but do not desire a gallon of water so you can still enjoy when you only get a drop of it.