Epicurus and Happiness

Favorite quotations, etc.
7Wannabe5
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

``It matters little,'' she said, softly. ``To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.''

``What Idol has displaced you?'' he rejoined.

``A golden one.''

``This is the even-handed dealing of the world!'' he said. ``There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!''

``You fear the world too much,'' she answered, gently.

BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE »

Arthur wrote:Boredom is just the reverse side of fascination: both depend on being outside rather than inside a situation, and one leads to the other.

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jennypenny
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by jennypenny »

GandK wrote:
jennypenny wrote:The problem is that once a person reduces their desires to the point where they have all that they need or want, many seem to end up in that malaise described in the Wheaton Scale thread and elsewhere. "I have all I want / Is that all there is?"

Finding meaningful (non arbitrary) engagement with minimal consumption feels like the Holy Grail around here sometimes.
I don't understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure what's tripping me up, so I'm not sure what questions to ask. Please expound?
For the most part, needs and wants are the reason people get out of bed in the morning. Once a person decides to give up most of those desires and finds themselves with everything they need, what are they left with? I'm not saying that people should work or Epicurus was wrong. All I'm saying is that modern society provides structure and a reward system that is ingrained early on, and once a person eschews that structure and gives up those desires, they then have to develop their own structure and find their own meaning. It's not always easy to do in a way that doesn't feel arbitrary. 'Busywork', even if it's self-inflicted, is still just busywork.

Sorry. I'm not sure this is any better. I'm struggling to find a way to express what I mean.

sky
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by sky »

21. Simplify Your Life!

Most people will benefit from reducing the complexity of their lives. Simplification frees up the most valuable commodity which a person can have: time. However, simplification and elimination of things is not a goal in itself. Simplification and minimalism have value to the extent that they improve one's life through reducing stress related to maintenance of things and by freeing up the time it takes to maintain them. It is also a frugal way to avoid unnecessary expenses. The goal of simplification and minimalism is to achieve a level of tranquility that is not disturbed by responsibilities and the maintenance of the things one owns.

Once a person reaches a minimalist state of tranquility and is enjoying the free time that simplification provides, one should seek to add behaviors and actions which increase happiness to one's life. One may choose actions and behaviors that maximize positive effects while minimizing responsibilities and negative effects.

As one learns which things truly add value and happiness to one's life, one can choose those beneficial behaviors which have a minimal impact on one's financial resources. One can focus one's time on a select group of friends that one knows are rational, kind, caring and without the overhead of drama, anger or deceit. One can spend time researching a subject which one is passionate about. One can create art, build furniture or perform music. One can express themselves through writing. Simplification of one's life can lead to a flowering of expression that is made possible by reducing one's responsibilities and maximizing free time.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

jennypenny said: All I'm saying is that modern society provides structure and a reward system that is ingrained early on, and once a person eschews that structure and gives up those desires, they then have to develop their own structure and find their own meaning. It's not always easy to do in a way that doesn't feel arbitrary. 'Busywork', even if it's self-inflicted, is still just busywork.
Right, but there are so many interesting, creative work projects you could assign yourself, I don't know why you would ever have to resort to busywork. For instance, wouldn't it be cool to build a dry stone wall all by yourself? Other ideas:

1) Start and keep a list of all the varieties and species of plants and animals you ever see and identify.
2) Write the lyrics for a country music song.
3) Make a dollhouse that is a perfect miniature version of the house you lived in when you were 8.
4) Learn how to tap dance.
5) Reinvent something approximating the cookie using only ingredients you grew yourself.
6) Learn how to cobble.
7) Figure out how to make a lens out of gelatin,
8) Have sex in a snow fort.
9) Plan and plant a flower garden that will be entirely hot pink and orange.
10) Read the 20 best-selling books published in the year 1902.

Dragline
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Dragline »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
``It matters little,'' she said, softly. ``To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.''

``What Idol has displaced you?'' he rejoined.

``A golden one.''

``This is the even-handed dealing of the world!'' he said. ``There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!''

``You fear the world too much,'' she answered, gently.
"And as your business prospered, Ebenezer Scrooge, a golden idol took possession of your heart, as Alice said it would."

jacob
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by jacob »

@7wb5/GandK - I can't find the exact quote, but Goethe said something to the effect of how you can want to play the guitar (or whatever), but you can never want to want to play the guitar or anything. The same holds for meaning. One can not find something meaningful merely by wanting to find it so.

Most people have to find meaning in survival (catering to needs and wants) or die, so that meaning is almost inherent. However, when all needs and wants are automatically satisfied, there's not necessarily any immediate or easy replacement for meaning available. Hopefully you have one in storage, but if not, it might not be easily available.

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.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@jacob: I agree. Since I am someone who is dorky enough to spreadsheet her happiness levels, my simple solution would be a combination of self-assigned work or activities or experiences that are simply pleasurable mixed with a number of others that are more grueling yet tending towards increasing feelings of fulfillment. For instance, teaching disadvantaged children is not pleasurable, but it is fulfilling. Half of the group I had today did not know the name of the planet that they live on. Now a few more of them do. Seemed like (literally!)meaningful work to me. And it's not even like I consider teaching to be one of my primary avocations or purposes. Maybe once you have provided for your own needs or wants, or at least rendered the process painless or pleasurable, the only to find meaning is to help someone or something else survive. For instance, one of my life's primary avocations has been the work of getting special books into the possession of the particular people who will appreciate them. Same as somebody else might focus on finding homes for abandoned puppies. Maybe, I am wrong, but it seems to me that eventually it becomes too easy just taking care of yourself (even extended into future) and you gotta have something or someone that is your baby.

BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE »

that's Schopenhauer, whom brute has quoted above.
Arthur wrote:You can do what you want, but you can't want what you want.

George the original one
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by George the original one »

> I don't know why you would ever have to resort to busywork.

Busywork is a perception. Sometimes the person doing it has no clue that they're doing busywork because they have a need to "do something" and their busywork makes them feel like they've accomplished something. Sometimes what outsiders believe is busywork, possibly because it is a menial task like garbage collection, laundry, or cooking, is actually very necessary.

BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE »

everything is busywork from the right perspective. saving dogs, performing CPR, raising children, going to work, taking the dog for a walk.

Dragline
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Dragline »

But the Power of Arthur compels you:

“Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”

BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE »

one has to be skeptical of a man who owned poodles.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

BRUTE said: everything is busywork from the right perspective. saving dogs, performing CPR, raising children, going to work, taking the dog for a walk.
True, but from the opposite perspective nothing is busywork. Whenever you do work, you are causing something to exist and something else not to exist. "I declare that the rocks shall no longer be buried within the soil, but will now be formed into a wall!" "No longer shall children with dirty faces roam freely about my domain!", "Ink will flow from pen and forever be transformed into paragraphs of my making!" You are nothing. You are a God. Your choice. You might experiment spending alternate days inhabiting either perspective.

In "The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life", George Kinder writes a good deal about money being perceived as flow. I am paraphrasing, but one meme that stuck with me when I read this book a number of years ago, was something like "Money will naturally flow towards you when you do the work that other people want you to do." So, I experimented with this a bit, and came to the conclusion that this is true if you amend to read more like "Money will naturally flow towards you when you do the work that other people who have money want you to do, and they are aware that you are doing this work." Therefore, it follows that when you have enough of an established flow from other people who have money, you are free to do the work that the other people who do not have money want you to do OR the work that only future you wants current you to do. Unless you are in a coma being fed through a tube, you are never free to not work at all. Even "This Dorito will no longer rest with the others of its kind safely within bag!" is a thought that could be associated with an act of destruction and construction, or transformation, known as work.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by ThisDinosaur »

Maybe this is too personal, but brute's form of nihilism is a common sign of depression. Is brute depressed?

BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE »

ThisDinosaur wrote:Maybe this is too personal, but brute's form of nihilism is a common sign of depression. Is brute depressed?
brute is never quite sure. he isn't unhappy. it feels more like brute has gained an insight that most individuals are prevented from gaining because of a combination of biological and societal glitches. maybe this is what depression feels like to "depressed" humans, too.

to say it another way: the nihilistic ideas that brute keeps thinking about are clearly facts, and true. humanity is a short sentence at the end of a short chapter of the Earth. brute will be dead in a few decades, and a few years after that, nobody will remember him. and even if anyone did remember brute, what good would that do him?

is brute depressed because the thinks about these (clearly factual) things, or are humans just too busy distracting themselves from them?

fun fact: brute is literally dancing in his chair as he's writing this, he gets way too much sun, works out almost every day.. so it's probably not that hormonal/biological depression thing. it's just a very strong case of ennui :)

BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE »

7Wannabe5 wrote:True, but from the opposite perspective nothing is busywork. Whenever you do work, you are causing something to exist and something else not to exist.
of course true. if nothing matters, everything matters. but the very fact that it's that arbitrary makes it meaningless. if a plastic bag dancing in the wind is beautiful, what does the word even mean?

sure, brute can (and does) fill up his time with distracting activities to pass the time. but if anything and nothing is meaningful, then no activity brute chooses has any more meaning than an addict injecting heroin. and the addict is probably having a better time.
7Wannabe5 wrote:"No longer shall children with dirty faces roam freely about my domain!"
brute should get this tattooed onto his chest in bold letters.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by ThisDinosaur »

I agree that the universe appears devoid of "meaning" in the sense humans tend to use it. A hedonistic optimist might say that your time between conception and death is a vacation from non-existence. Heroin is only a bad choice, then, because it won't be much fun for very long.

Happiness is a physiological phenomenon. If you are well-nourished, well rested, and get plenty of exercise, then you can speak philosophically about meaninglessness and not feel sad. If you are sleep-deprived, out of shape, and not content with your social standing, even devout faith in meaning won't protect you from despair.

Dragline
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Dragline »

BRUTE wrote:
ThisDinosaur wrote:Maybe this is too personal, but brute's form of nihilism is a common sign of depression. Is brute depressed?
brute is never quite sure. he isn't unhappy. it feels more like brute has gained an insight that most individuals are prevented from gaining because of a combination of biological and societal glitches. maybe this is what depression feels like to "depressed" humans, too.

to say it another way: the nihilistic ideas that brute keeps thinking about are clearly facts, and true. humanity is a short sentence at the end of a short chapter of the Earth. brute will be dead in a few decades, and a few years after that, nobody will remember him. and even if anyone did remember brute, what good would that do him?

is brute depressed because the thinks about these (clearly factual) things, or are humans just too busy distracting themselves from them?

fun fact: brute is literally dancing in his chair as he's writing this, he gets way too much sun, works out almost every day.. so it's probably not that hormonal/biological depression thing. it's just a very strong case of ennui :)
I still think you need a dog. Maybe one that dances. Doesn't have to be a poodle, though. :D

BRUTE
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE »

ThisDinosaur wrote:A hedonistic optimist might say that your time between conception and death is a vacation from non-existence.
a hedonistic pessimist like brute might say the same thing :)
ThisDinosaur wrote:Heroin is only a bad choice, then, because it won't be much fun for very long.
has ThisDinosaur tried it?
Wikipedia wrote:Like most opioids, unadulterated heroin does not cause many long-term complications other than dependence and constipation.
brute can deal with constipation.
ThisDinosaur wrote:Happiness is a physiological phenomenon. If you are well-nourished, well rested, and get plenty of exercise, then you can speak philosophically about meaninglessness and not feel sad. If you are sleep-deprived, out of shape, and not content with your social standing, even devout faith in meaning won't protect you from despair.
that's why brute thinks he isn't physiologically depressed, merely bored with existence. thanks for ThisDinosaur's concern.
Dragline wrote:some stuff about dogs
there's a friendly pitbull that came with brute's apartment, but brute doesn't really feel inclined to spend much time with it. it usually sits in its own feces and looks sad, barking from time to time.

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