Saturday, December 15, 2012


Epicurus - the pleasure guy. OK, but pleasure as he defined it was not modern pleasure. Pleasure to Epicurus was absence of guilt, pain, and anxiety. Not to much pleasure there, Epicurus included the middle ground, which in our modern thought, is not pleasure. But there is much neutral ground in life. Epi was a Stoic, so accept all that is not in our control, and we can accept or change any thing in our control, which is our mind and some actions. It was not left to wisdom.

Most people do not know what would make them happy. Epi says it comes down to "we can be happy if we look in the right places." That is internal, where we have control, in our minds. Happiness is that our expectations have been met. If we lower our expectations to our reality, we can be happy anywhere.

Epi went onto say, beyond that, for him, he wanted friends and family to be close, freedom, which is economic independence, or self-sufficiency, and an analysed life. He started a commune on a hill side in Greece, not far from where he was from, and they achieved self sufficiency. Old hippy way of life, but that was the standard of the day. The analysis life part is a basic of Stoicism.

Now just consider what he achieved. He wrote a few books, that 2000 years later are still being studied. He recognised that advertising (even then) raises expectations, and high expectations lead to unhappiness. Self sufficiency provides basic needs, security, and safety at the time. It also provided some physical work that is so essential to health.  Being part of a community / commune provided belonging, and social activity. The self analysis of life and writing provided esteem and status, self- realisation and fulfilment. When we look at our modern Maslow's needs, what do we find?

All this from a fellow who lived on a hillside in a rock hutch and raised goats and a garden. It is our expectations that are out of line with reality. Perhaps, as a youth, I picked up the idea I could eat whatever I wanted and I wanted everything. Do I expect to be able to eat sugars, grains, dairy products, and excess fruits? Does advertising drive that urge, that want, for good tasting food? What level should my expectations really be at?  Also note that hunger was not included in Epi's list of nots.   

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