The philosophy of Epicurus: Life is easy when we keep it simple

I’ve been going back to the well, ancient philosophy.
And I’ve learned so much from stoicism, but a completely different philosophical school, epicureanism, I’m now finding is really quite refreshing to look at.
And the simple idea of Epicurus is that we can separate our natural desires from our vain desires.
So if we look at all the things that we want, some of the things we want are completely natural, like food and shelter.
And then there’s the vain things like wealth and fame and power.
Those are unnecessary.
And then sexual desire: sort of in the middle.
It’s a natural desire, but also an unnecessary one.
So I find it very interesting to separate these desires.
And when you think about it, the wonderful thing is that the natural, simple, necessary desires are very easy.
They’re very simple to obtain.
We are so worried about all these different things that come up.
The whole comparing ourselves to other people, comparing ourselves even to our vision of what we want, imagining that we want to achieve more in life.
And while it’s wonderful to achieve things, we can also get caught up in the feeling that we’re not good enough unless we achieve A, B, C, the whole list of whatever we think we should be achieving.
There’s almost a part of me that reacts against the idea of, you know, “What about just having a simple life?” Some part of me reacts against it.
It’s like, well, don’t you want to achieve anything? I mean, if you just eat and sleep in a comfortable shelter for the rest of your life, I mean, is that really- that doesn’t by itself create a happy life.
It doesn’t do anything beyond- it almost feels like it’s almost like living at an animal level.
It’s like are you an animal, that you could just be happy to eat and sleep? So there’s a part of me that just rebels against it.
But I think that the wonderful thing about this approach is that by separating these natural desires from anything else, we can use that as a baseline, and we can just relax.
We can just chill out, as long as we have the baseline.
As long as we’re eating, sleeping, with our shelter, we have the basic needs taken care of, then we have the basics taken care of.
Those desires are the only ones that we need to satisfy to survive.
And so we’re OK.
That doesn’t mean that simply living for that is a complete life.
But there’s something very refreshing about just thinking that that’s all I need.
That’s all I need to worry about.
Anything beyond that is a bonus.
Anything beyond that is something added on to the basics, but I don’t actually need it.
All I need are the basic, necessary, natural desires to be met in the most basic way.
And the wonderful thing about this thought is that it really makes life simple and easy.
It’s easy to obtain that baseline.
Living in a land of peace and prosperity where we can find enough income to be able to meet basic needs: it’s doable.
It’s possible.
We don’t have to worry about it.
And as long as we have that, we’re OK.
So this doesn’t solve life.
It’s not complete to just eat and sleep.
But there’s something about just letting that be an easily obtainable baseline, and to realize that we don’t need specifically anything more than that.
All those extra things that we want, like some kind of recognition by society, some kind of higher levels of wealth, where we can buy more toys and do more things, and all these things, they’re all extra.
They’re all unnecessary.
And as long as we can take care of that basic, natural needs that we have, then we are OK.
And really, it’s easy to do that.
So in that sense, when you look at it from this perspective, life is easy.
Of course there’s enough complexity to go around, and enough other things to occupy our attention.
But I find that this approach, of just separating those desires into what we really need and to what we kind of artificially want, that helps to take life in a very simple and easy direction.

#epicurus #simplelife #lifeiseasy

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