School’s in session! In this mythic auditorium, the ancient Greek philosophers set us on a path toward happiness.
Are you struggling to find happiness? Perhaps you’ve caught yourself saying, “if only I had X, then I’d be happy.” We’ve all longed for something we think we don’t deserve or will never get.
Or perhaps you can’t put a finger on what’s missing. “Why am I not happy?” As you dip and dive into the murky waters of blah living, you struggle to find moments of bliss.
But perhaps there’s a cure for unhappiness…
At the height of the Golden Age in ancient Greece, philosophers produced endless scrolls of mood elevating tips. Apollo’s bright light must have illuminated self-awareness and consciousness. Because it was a time of radical ideas that would propel humanity forward on the evolutionary path.
Here are the ancient Greek philosophers’ eight tips to find more happiness:
Beyond the roles you play (mother, teacher, boss, etc.), who are you? What do you need to feel emotionally fulfilled? And what lights you up?
Socrates, one of the founders of Western logic and philosophy, says that the more you know yourself, the more you can make choices that lead to true happiness.
But beyond your likes and dislikes, ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle believes you also need to know your life purpose. What are you on this planet to experience?
Hint: your life purpose unravels over time, as you do what you love and have an aptitude for. And yes, pursuing your life purpose creates true happiness.
Stop Being Busy
Is your calendar stuffed to the max?
Socrates warns, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Your agenda may be full, but does it feel exciting and expansive? And are you doing things that really matter?
For the modern gal, this tip is a tough one. We juggle A LOT from work, passion projects, fitness, classes, family and friends. And while all those activities seem necessary, you have to ask: are they really?
Do you really need to take another astrology class? If it fills up your cup, YES. By all means, take the class. But first, check in to see if it feels exciting and expansive.
Now take a hard look at your agenda. Does each task feel expansive? If you’re dreading a task, perhaps there is a way to make it more fun. For instance, laundry while watching a fascinating video. Or perhaps someone can take it off your plate (ahem, helpful hubby).
Be a Lifelong Student
Do you have a hunger to learn?
Perhaps you’re a holistic healer with a passion for consuming everything there is on crystals, aromatherapy and bodywork. Or perhaps astrology is your thing, and you can’t get enough of the twelve archetypes. Whatever topics tinkle your curiosity, learn about them. It’s one of the secrets to true happiness, according to the ancient Greek philosophers.
And of course, learn with an open mind. As Socrates says, “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
What are your goals? Why are they important? And do you have a plan to achieve them?
For Aristotle, long-term thinking is essential for happiness. Why? Because it feels good to fulfill our potential.
When I was a gymnast eons ago, I would write down my short-term and long-term goals in my kiddie notebook. “Top 5 at State Championships, Top 5 a Regional Championships, make the National Team, and so on…” While the training was intense, it did feel good to inch my way towards my ultimate dream.
Do Everything in Moderation
The Greek proverb “nothing in excess” is inscribed on the ancient temple at Delphi. A strange thing to carve into a temple dedicated to Apollo, right? I mean what’s so sacred about living in moderation?
The ancient Greeks would say that it’s the secret to being a decent human and happiness. In fact, nothing is harmful in moderation. Take impatience, for instance. Without a little impatience, you won’t get anything done. Or recklessness, for example. Zero recklessness equals a humdrum life.
And I have to say this tip is a game changer for me. As a Leo with a 5 Life Path in Numerology, I love to indulge! Decadent desserts, fine wine, thrilling adventures, yes please! But for true happiness, I would have to turn down my self-indulgent whims to a healthy “self-control” level. Of course, too low on the barometer would mean being insensitive to pleasure. And who wants a pleasure-less life?
Beware of the Green-eyed Monster
We all know that “comparison is the thief of joy.” After all, it’s plastered across Pinterest boards. But your friend just bought your dream home, your sister is on a spiritual retreat in Bali and your partner just locked eyes with a smoking hot stranger. You’re jealous.
Epictetus, an ancient Greek sage, knew jealousy all too well, as a slave during his early years. He says, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
Yes, a dose of gratitude puts the green-eyed monster back into a deep slumber. So, the next time someone triggers your envy, think about all the things you’re thankful for.
Have you ever felt like you suddenly have everything you could ever want? The stars are aligned, and you manifested your dream life. But somehow it’s hard to enjoy it.
Why? Because you know that it’s not going to last. And sadly, your intuition is right.
Everything in the universe is constantly changing. As Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, says, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” When you accept change, you release your attachment to an ideal form. And that’s one of the secrets to happiness!
Instead of fixating on an ideal form, enjoy the present moment. It’s truly beautiful. As Seneca, a Roman philosopher and statesman, says, “True happiness is… to enjoy the present without anxious dependence on the future.” And many sages, philosophers and mystics would have to agree. Mindfulness brings inner peace and happiness.
What’s your favorite tip? Share in the comments!
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- Hall, Edith. Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life. Penguin Books, 2020.
- Diederichs, Gilles. Toutes les Sagesses du Monde. Larousse, 2015.
- “Beware the barrenness of a busy life. “ — Socrates by Leonardo Pelatti
- Surprisingly Modern Wisdom From Ancient Greeks and Romans by Toni Bernhard J.D.
- Plato’s Approach to Life by Azriel Reshel
- Know thyself by Sebastiano Bertolini