An old view

Looking at a house like this there’s no way to tell if the people living there are happy or unhappy. Getting a big house and nice car won’t necessarily be accompanied by happiness.

A marketing firm came up with this poster.¬†The firm was commissioned by Alain de Botton for his BBC program about the Greek philosopher Epicurus. It’s the second episode in a six part series on philosophy.

Epicurus thought we should lead guilt-free and pleasurable lives. But doing it can be tricky; we generally don’t know how to best pursue happiness, so we’re often pulled toward material things, especially with all the marketing around us. What we want isn’t always what we need. That’s what lead de Botton to hire a marketing firm to create an anti marketing campaign – sometimes it takes a thorn to remove a thorn.

There are just three big ingredients for a happy life according to Epicurus. He wasn’t against having a lot of money and felt if you focused on the big three you could be happy with or without wealth. Plus if you’re wealthy and lose it you could continue being happy.

Epicurus’ three ingredients needed for happiness are:

Friendship – characterized by very frequent interactions, an example is never eating by yourself.

Freedom – try to be as self-sufficient as possible, to be free of pressures from an employer.

Examination – taking time to reflect on life and any anxieties so they can be diminished and maybe resolved if you have the time to think them through.

It’s an old view (a few centuries B.C.) of what makes for a happy life. Albert Schweitzer said, “Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you’ll be successful.” I think Epicurus’ three keys to happiness¬†still ring true today.