Epicurus and Happiness

Favorite quotations, etc.
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FBeyer
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by FBeyer » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:21 am

BRUTE wrote:...
heroin puts humans into flow like a motherfucker. doesn't mean it's great. leads to constipation... for life guidance, brute loses his shit...
I think I've just found the solution to Brute's opiate-related constipation problem.
GandK wrote:...My happiness isn't related to skill or challenges or tasks or activity in any way that I can see...
Is Flow about maximizing happiness? I always thought about Flow as some disjoint positive-psychology term relating to optimum working conditions, rather than a life philosophy.
Need to get work done? Is it boring? Do Pomodoros.
Is it not boring? Can you actively frame the work and alter your physical working conditions? If yes go for Flow.

If I'm reading for studies I NEED SQ3R reading and Pomodoros to keep me on track.
If I'm programming or doing calculations by hand: Flow!
ThisDinosaur wrote:...Its all the same shite...
I think this is one of the most profound insights a human can attain. Information/knowledge is regurgitated to unfathomable extent. The collective improvement of humanity comes down to perhaps a thousand outstanding individuals. You can sell a book/video/course when you can frame ancient knowledge in a way that is conducive to your intended recipients. Witness Your Money Or Your Life turning personal finance into something that is entertaining and thought provoking at the same time. This is why communication skills trump expert knowledge when it comes to the written medium. Framing old shit in new terms sells.

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Dragline
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Dragline » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:06 am

GandK wrote:@sky

I've seen a similar chart before, but I feel like that theory doesn't include me. My happiness isn't related to skill or challenges or tasks or activity in any way that I can see. I do enjoy those, but I also enjoy the absence of them, and frequently feel ecstasy and serenity when I'm not doing anything.

Maybe I'm just lazy. :lol:
No, you are just good at what you don't do. :)

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Dragline
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Dragline » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:13 am

BRUTE wrote: for reference, brute has used flow to overcome boredom in the past. turns out few things put brute into flow as quickly as riding a motorcycle at 3x the posted speed limit.

but that isn't a solution to life, it's not even a strategy. it's a very, very powerful distraction. spending the rest of brute's life on a motorcycle doing heroin is only insofar a great strategy as it would make the former end very quickly.
You need to "Ten-X" your flow by "bio-hacking" with George Carlin memes and Pomodoros to Unleash the Power Within.

This may help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPI5TexgiXA

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cmonkey
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by cmonkey » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:20 am

GandK wrote: I do enjoy those, but I also enjoy the absence of them, and frequently feel ecstasy and serenity when I'm not doing anything.

Maybe I'm just lazy. :lol:
For the first time in a long time I sat on our porch and did nothing last. It was the best time I've had in a long while, even if it was only 10 minutes.

I know this feeling quite well, even if I have been having a hard time of 'doing nothing' lately. I kind of think that my wanting to 'be doing something' stems from not being able to accept something as 'good enough' and wanting to improve it. At least thats how my whole renovation has gone.

When I sit and 'do nothing' I am accepting that everything is good enough (even if someone else doesn't think so) and that brings peace to my mind.

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vexed87
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by vexed87 » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:22 am

jacob wrote:The problem is that no matter how large the bucket list, one can not want to find meaning in any one entry. Without that meaning, the activity can easily feel like busywork. Something one does just to do something, e.g. #232) Learn to play the guitar. I don't really care to, nor do I find it meaningful or interesting, but I do it anyway because it keeps me busy.

This is also why we occasionally see hints of ennui around here.
Hmm, ennui, a new word for me! Is there a 'recipe' for finding meaningful activity/work? This is something I struggle with, particularly if my evening is taken up by chores or things DW wants to do that don't meet my personal interests, particularly as my day job isn't always THAT fulfilling.

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cmonkey
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by cmonkey » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:31 am

vexed87 wrote:Is there a 'recipe' for finding meaningful activity/work?
For me, it would default to what I daydream about. Watch any of your Monty Don episodes on BBC2 and you will see what I daydream about. Propogation, greenhouses, compost, flowers, veggies..... ;)

Above all, what do you dream about doing each day? Most people probably have something crosses their minds from time to time. What makes you so happy that when you think about it, you get goosebumps?!

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vexed87
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by vexed87 » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:44 am

That works for me too... but some day dreams require considerably more effort, skill or resources than I am prepared to develop or spend, and such I get put off a great many of my dreams!

I start a great many of them, but follow through on too few! :lol: I think that's the curse of the INTP though.

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cmonkey
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by cmonkey » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:52 am

There might even be an underlying driver for what you daydream about that would let you find other activities that are more within reach that would give you meaning as well.

For example, my love of gardening is actually just the best expression of my love of experiencing seasonality and thinking about the passage of time. That is at the core of it.

I can also fulfill this by reading about history, planning for/thinking about my future, and also just enjoying the rising/setting sun each day.

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vexed87
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by vexed87 » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:57 am

Great insight, I can definitely agree with that. My love for home bread baking started out with just basic tinned loafs, as I got more confident I branched out into sour dough and other artisan loaves, then to other culinary areas, such as cakes, buns, pastry and other more wholesome baked goods, but now it's seeping out into other areas of cooking too, whereas before I was more utilitarian with my weekly recipes, now I am pushing myself a lot more.

I definitely feel the flow in these areas, funnily it wasn't there before, I wonder what changed.

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cmonkey
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by cmonkey » Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:24 am

My own personal meaning also seeps into other areas as well, I think that is to be expected. Variety is much more fulfilling than invariability. Outside the world of plants/gardening I also gain a lot of pleasure from birdwatching, reading about and looking at pictures of geology/different biomes, astronomy, etc... They all go back to the core though, which is experiencing the flow of time.

Astronomy in particular. Looking at/pondering the reality of some of pictures that have come out of the hubble telescope..... that will give me goosebumps like nothing else.

SustainableHappiness
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by SustainableHappiness » Fri Sep 16, 2016 11:15 am

Awesome portrayal of ennui here: http://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=2232

Ennuigi

Spend some time with a depressed, laconic Luigi as he chain smokes and wanders through a crumbling Mushroom Kingdom, ruminating on ontology, ethics, family, identity, and the mistakes he and his brother have made.

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BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:50 pm

SustainableHappiness wrote:Ennuigi
the princess is always in another castle, isn't she.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by enigmaT120 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:26 am

BRUTE wrote:ok, time for brute to finally get that "flow" rant out...
for reference, brute has used flow to overcome boredom in the past. turns out few things put brute into flow as quickly as riding a motorcycle at 3x the posted speed limit.

but that isn't a solution to life, it's not even a strategy. it's a very, very powerful distraction.

Oh my yes. Unfortunately my fastest motorcycle is a '70 Triumph Bonneville with a top speed of somewhere around 112 mph. But on a curvy road that can be plenty. Of course, if I sold it I could afford a Daytona 675.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 1:16 pm

I have almost fallen asleep on the back of a motorcycle. Anyways, it's never about the speed. It's about the rate of acceleration.

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BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Sun Sep 18, 2016 2:19 pm

both are fun. at high speeds, the whoosh effect and the air buffer are an incredible experience, too. brute supposes it's the delta, not the speed - if everything else was also going very fast, it wouldn't be very noticeable.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:36 pm

ThisDinosaur wrote:Lots of these old philosophers read like outdated self-help books.

My world view is heavily influenced by George Carlin. Maybe he's a better philosopher than Epictetus, or maybe he was just better than me at articulating things I kind of already believed.
Ha, I have figured pretty much the same things, though my opinion was somewhat more positive. I started out interested in philosophy and later moved on to self-help books, which I viewed as being like "applied philosophy." I also once remarked to myself that comedians seem to be the philosophers of our day.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by ThisDinosaur » Mon Sep 19, 2016 7:26 am

It depends on the comedian. Louis CK is a philosopher. Chris Rock might be. Norm Macdonald probably not as much.

Flow is very similar to how I would define confidence. Being sure and focused on a task distracts you enough to ignore any insecurity. Confidence can go with happiness, but not necessarily. See: "Grizzled," as in "Grizzled Old Man".

Classic philosophy, self-help gurus, scientology, and well-constructed song lyrics all function to provide framing. If that framing inspires you in the frame of mind you have when you hear it, it will be important to you. There's nothing wrong with that, but it does explain why I don't see anything universal about Happiness in Epicurus. Some schools of Buddhism seem "right" to me, but not so for others. Its all just different filtered views of different corners of reality.

We are all very small organisms, in a mossy puddle, on a moist pebble, hurdling through space in a wobbly orbit around an unremarkable star in a vast sea of other stars. Meaning is not inherent in the universe. You invent meaning for yourself as you go along.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by jacob » Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:17 am

"Happiness" does receive a lot more priority in the US and by anyone who's submerged in US culture than it does by any other country. Case in point, Americans are far more fascinated with Denmark as the "happiest" country in the world; more than any other country in the world; and even more than the Danes themselves. American culture is looking for a framework based on a pursuit of Happiness. (Life and Liberty seems to have fallen somewhat by the wayside. Maybe because they're not so easy to buy on credit?)

Classical philosophers did focus mostly on the practical application of their philosophy believing that philosophy was something someone lived and not something one wrote about in papers that are only interesting to five people in the world. As such their works can easily be seen as self-help because that is what those philosophers were trying to do. Contrast that with modern philosophy which is generally useless for all practical purposes if not downright stupid insofar one tries to apply it to something other than basketball practice in a trash can (e.g. deconstructionism).

The classical perception of practicality could also be a question of survivorship bias. Maybe they had their own Derrida 2500 years ago but it's not hard to imagine why such nonsense writings would be more likely to end up as TP than preserved over the centuries.

On a similar note, consider what kind of 21st century books or knowledge is likely to survive for the next two thousand years. I'll put my money on a book on astrology rather than Principia Mathematica, say.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by ThisDinosaur » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:08 am

Dovetailing on the comment about modern philosophy being useless, I once met a Graduate student studying the Philosophy of Music. His thesis was on whether certain aspects of music were "real" or "illusory." So I asked something about mathematics and neuroscience. He said he didn't know anything about that. :o

@Jacob, why do you figure Astrology will outlast Math and Physics? Lindy effect or is there more to it?

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by jacob » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:34 am

@ThisDinosaur - Because there are more practitioners of astrology than there are practitioners of astronomy. The amount of knowledge that a random person has about astrology likely exceeds what they know about astronomy. E.g. ask someone to write an essay about either and compare lengths. Put it another way, astronomy is more fragile than astrology.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by ThisDinosaur » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:46 am

Astronomy can predict comets and eclipses. Astrology can't predict shit.

I suppose vague horoscopes are just unfalsifiable enough to be antifragile.

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BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:40 am

jacob wrote:On a similar note, consider what kind of 21st century books or knowledge is likely to survive for the next two thousand years. I'll put my money on a book on astrology rather than Principia Mathematica, say.
the secret

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luxagraf
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by luxagraf » Mon Sep 19, 2016 12:31 pm

jacob wrote:On a similar note, consider what kind of 21st century books or knowledge is likely to survive for the next two thousand years. I'll put my money on a book on astrology rather than Principia Mathematica, say.
Given the extremely high acid content of the paper used in the vast majority of 20th and 21st century books, I would expect the original Principia Mathematica -- along with a great many of Newton's texts on astrology -- to outlast any others.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by enigmaT120 » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:00 pm

After what Jacob said, I hope luxagraf is correct.

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GandK
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by GandK » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:24 pm

jacob wrote:"Happiness" does receive a lot more priority in the US and by anyone who's submerged in US culture than it does by any other country. Case in point, Americans are far more fascinated with Denmark as the "happiest" country in the world; more than any other country in the world; and even more than the Danes themselves. American culture is looking for a framework based on a pursuit of Happiness. (Life and Liberty seems to have fallen somewhat by the wayside. Maybe because they're not so easy to buy on credit?)
This observation reminds me of a video I saw on YouTube once where someone was wandering around in Germany asking random people on the street what they think of Americans. Responses were mostly predictable (we're too fat, we're too patriotic, we wear obnoxiously bright clothing), but one woman said something like, "Americans are always smiling. Even when there's nothing to smile about and they're not even happy, they're smiling. It's so stupid. How can anyone tell if you're happy or not if you never quit smiling?" Facebook Live, in other words.

I wonder if America is obsessed with happiness because of the overall cultural demand in this country for a happy facade and the idea that you're not really a success at something unless you've accomplished it with a smile. It seems as though that's not universal? At least a few of the smile fakers here have got to be wondering if there's a way for them to arrive at a genuine smile.

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