The Infamous and Controversial Philosophy of Epicureanism Sheds Light on Happiness and Friendship.
Epicureanism is a school of thought founded by Epicurus. His philosophy was founded on the belief that life is about pleasure. He explored the question of how we could live a pleasurable life free from the corrupting desires all around us.
He was quite controversial in Ancient Greece and then in the middle ages too because he was deemed as a shameless hedonist. Rumors circulated about him throwing indulgent parties and crazy orgies. He was even the first philosopher to welcome women into his school, thinking they should have access to philosophy.
Epicurus, like many wise philosophers, believed he had the secret to living a happy and fulfilling life. It can best be understood by his most important quote.
“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…Nothing is enough to the man for whom enough is too little.”
This again is a major lesson for us in our capitalist consumerist societies. Epictetus believed that what we needed to be happy would come to us. Chasing anything would leave us more unhappy than where we started. Fate is a key lesson here.
For me, one of his most important lessons was the value we should place on friendship before materialistic desires. A true connection with a friend will always stay with you and support you, much more than any temporary romantic relationship ever could.
“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink… To eat and drink without a friend is to devour like the lion and the wolf.”
A genuine bond with a friend always precedes the false empty satisfaction that materialistic things can give us. To be truly happy is to live with little and to find pleasure in the things around us; building friendships.
Having recently come out of a long-term relationship, I couldn't relate more to this teaching from Epicurus. Friends will always be there for you, even when the people you supposedly love will leave you.
Epicureanism: Less is more, and with less comes ultimate pleasure. Find solace in the company of a true friendship, not in empty desires.