The philosophy of Epicurus: The way to happiness is friendship

So looking at this ancient philosophy of Epicurus, epicureanism: it’s often that word, when it’s remembered at all, is often used to mean a love of luxury and gourmet food.
But missing the point that Epicurus saw pleasure as being the greatest thing, so when you hear that, it sounds like it’s all about indulging yourself in luxury.
But his idea of pleasure was that you really live a simple life, and that all the fancy, luxurious pleasures are really unnecessary and often create a lot more problems than they actually give you pleasure.
And so Epicurus liked to eat bread and water, and for him, having some cheese was a feast.
So this philosophy of minimalism and simplicity: it seems to be something entirely different from any notion of pursuing luxury or gourmet life.
Even if you put pleasure as the highest goal, thinking about it in this way, living for pleasure does not need to be this kind of endless quest for luxury.
The way that I always learned the idea of living for pleasure is that, you know, you look for all these fleeting pleasures that are always disappearing, so you’re always scrambling after more pleasure.
But if you really look at all the pleasures and say well, we only need the basic pleasures, we only need to have simple food, drink, shelter, and friendship, and that’s really what we need to have a good life.
And so really, I’m finding it to be a very refreshing way to look at things, to really simplify life and take it down to a place where it’s really kind of easy.
Because those required things that we need to have, that we can’t live without: they are usually quite easy to obtain, and the things that are hard to obtain are things that we don’t need.
So it’s a wonderful recipe.
And one of the the big parts of it that stands out in his view is friendship.
So of course, we can look at the basic animal needs, food, water, shelter, and so we have to take care of those, but then after all that, the thing that is added, the thing that most contributes to happiness in life, is friendship.
And this is such a basic thing that it seems like in many philosophies, many teachings of life, it’s simply not emphasized as much as it could be.
And you know, even here, I’ve talked about the word “community”, and the importance of community, but haven’t focused on the concept of friendship.
And this maybe is even more basic.
Because when we get into the idea of community, now it’s like OK, a whole group of people.
We get into issues of the social environment, the social fabric, and conforming to some kind of abstract notion of what “the people” are doing, some kind of a herd mentality, these masses of people.
Start to think of it that way.
But friendship takes it down to the simplest level of simply people cooperating with each other, people working together and sharing life together and helping each other to live a good life.
And it seems like jumping to the idea of community, it’s a jump further, because it starts with friendship.
It starts with these individual bonds tying people together.
It can be bonds of family, if we choose to get along with our family and make that work, and the choice is like a friendship of blood, and then there’s a friendship of choice, people that we choose to get along with, that we choose to work together with.
These one-on-one bonds that we build to cooperate with others: this is the foundation of community.
We don’t have to start with this whole big massive community and then find our way to join a community and be part of this big thing.
We can build community simply by one-on-one friendship.
By building friendships, we can then grow community out of it, but focus on the elemental particles of community, these bonds of friendship.
How do we treat our friends? Maybe this is such a simple thing, but something that is not given enough attention.
And maybe the first step is simply to give it a higher priority in our minds and really take it seriously as something that is a very central thing, that simply being a good friend leads to happiness.
And that if we really take care of the business of being a good friend, that it leads to so many good things in life.
And possibly, it may possibly be the strongest choice that we can make.
So I’d be curious to hear how you feel about this topic.

#friendship #community #epicurus

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