The issue of enjoyment and happiness is discussed in The Compensation for Not Having Money. Epicurus’ philosophy is based on his life and experiences (Debitha, 2009). Epicurus valued happiness and contentment above all else in life. In his teachings, he proclaimed that “pleasure is the beginning and the goal of a happy life,” and he openly stated his desire to engage in sensual pleasure-seeking activities. He also said openly that he enjoyed good food.
The consolation for not having money explores how humans can experience joy and satisfaction without spending excessive amounts of money (Grossi, 2010). Essentially in Epicurus’ school of thought, one can find comfort and contentment in the most straightforward ways. The philosopher wrote,” I don’t know how I shall conceive of good if I take away the pleasures of taste, if I take away sexual pleasure, if I take away the pleasure of hearing and if I take away the sweet emotions that are caused by the sight of the beautiful forms.” From his thoughts, Epicurus saw pleasure from things that could be touched, heard, tasted and seen. Happiness is all around humans, and one does not need to have money to experience it.
Contrary to what people expected, Epicurus got his pleasures from living a simple life. Epicurus concluded that our souls do not know what it wants with regards to happiness as well as health. He compared person seeking happiness through expensive things like a person who drills his/her head because of a migraine to ease the feeling that their head is about to explode.
How the consolation tries to solve the problem.
The consolation tries to solve the problems of pleasure and contentment by coming up with ingredients of pleasure list which are not expensive. The list includes friendship, freedom, and thought. Epicurus treasured friendships, he even observed that “of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.” Epicurus lived among a large group of friends where there was no sullenness nor any sense of confinement. He found contentment in eating together in a shared room. He even asserted that individuals don’t exist unless someone is seeing them (Chanco, 2015). He also contended that what human beings say have no meaning if there is no one to understand. Epicurus appreciated friends who do not judge an individual based on material possessions.
Freedom in Epicurus’ philosophy signifies the ability to separate oneself from politics and economic affairs. The philosopher compared working with annoying and unappreciative bosses to prison. He suggested that the solution to the attainment of personal happiness is to be independent of all the political and the economic pressure that the society place. For instance, Epicurus and his friends quit employment and bought a garden and planted vegetables for their food. They ceased from judging each other using material things. Consequently, they lived a very contented life where they did not strive to please other people by buying expensive jewelry or eating expensive foods.
According to Epicurus thoughts could significantly influence an individual’s state of happiness. The philosopher believed that airing the problem is a better way of handling anxiety other than spending a lot of time thinking. Epicurus and his friends wrote down their concerns as a way to manage them. The philosopher observed that there was no need to worry about death as when it eventually comes one would not even be there to experience it. Consequently, Epicurus and friends analyzed their problems soberly, therefore, they led a happy life.
The philosopher also classified the human needs into three categories; natural and necessary, natural but unnecessary and things that are neither natural nor necessary. The physical and necessary things are the ones that indeed determined the happiness of an individual. They include items such as friends, freedom, thought, food, shelter, and clothing. The natural but unnecessary things are elements which an individual does not need to achieve happiness such as mansions, servants and currently designer products while things that are neither natural nor necessary include fame and power. These are things that human beings just invented and have no direct or indirect relation to happiness. Epicurus concluded his philosophy by summarizing that happiness is mostly dependent on psychological factors and is relatively independent of material items. He suggested that one could look for money to buy just some warm clothes, shelter and food. He asserted that “plain dishes offer the same pleasure as a luxurious table when the pain that comes from want is taken away.”
This philosophy is fundamental as it helps an individual not to worry about conforming to the world’s definition of pleasure. It teaches human beings to derive preferences in their pure, unique ways. The philosophy infers that happiness is the state of mind and that one does not need to have expensive material possessions to be happy.
Growing up as a child, I had a friend who came from a family that was somehow struggling to make ends meet. My friend had a single parent family as his father had succumbed to cancer. The cost of treating the disease had left the family struggling to meet the regular bills and expenses. His mother worked two jobs, but still, that was not enough as we could see them struggling. They could not afford stylish clothes I thought were important. They also could not afford toys and other luxurious goods. However, their family seemed very happy. They lived as a large extended family with grandparents and aunties and cousins. I would always admire how the family was full of stories either from grandmother, cousin or aunty. There were different characters in the house, and their dinner was so pleasant yet simple as the stories they shared were interesting. Our home was the average middle-class family. We did not have all the luxury, but at least I had both parents and had most of the things my friend didn’t have. At the dinner table, there was my father, mother, my brother and I. It was not as exciting as my friends yet our meals compared to theirs had a lot of options. I used to like visiting my friend’s place and loved their company. I came to discover that friends and family play an essential role in determining our happiness. I started inviting friends over to our family and appreciating the things I had. I realized that the correct definition of joy lies in our peaceful thoughts and sharing what we have with friends and family. Also, material things do not necessarily equate to happiness and contentment.
Debitha. (2009, March 30). The Consolations of Philosophy. Retrieved December 7, 2017, from Debitha Website: https://debitha.dreamwidth.org/38976.html
Grossi, S. (2010, April 22). The Consolations of Philosophy. Retrieved December 7, 2017, from Steve Grossi Website: http://www.stevegrossi.com/on/the-consolations-of-philosophy