For the ancient Greeks happiness had several meanings intended as good luck and linked to verbs such as to reach, to achieve, to distribute, to succeed.
Happiness was the goal of life, a life lived according to ethics and morality. Let us go through the thoughts of some of the most important philosophers of the ancient Greece, from more than 2000 years ago.
Epicurus (341-270 AC) he established the School of Happiness, combining happiness with friendship rather than love. We work not to make money, but just for the sake of what we do. Happiness is given by eliminating what troubles us, such as fear of gods and death, trusting in our future and the desire for things not strictly necessary, only this way we will not have pain in body and soul and we will be really happy.
For Epicurus, the true source of happiness is the pleasure we should all strive for, the real goal of our lives. In practice, pleasure is the absence of pain and disturbance of our souls. Natural pleasures, such as drinking and eating, are the most important and those for which it is really worth living, so enjoy every moment of life as if it was the last, trying to settle for what life will reserve us without worrying about the future! “Of all the things that wisdom provides for a happy existence, the greatest is friendship.”
Even for Protagora (486-411 AC), happiness was seen as the greatest asset that comes from the pleasures of life, which can be reached from the realization of personal desires, so the more you can fulfill your desires, the happier you will be.
Plato (427-347 AC) believed that a happy life was a life full of desires to try to satisfy in full joy. He spoke of “platonic happiness”, understood as an abstraction from reality.
For Socrates (469-399 AC), on the other hand, happiness is not achieved by seeking pleasure but through virtue, so it depends on us and our chances to achieve it, through the philosophy that can lead us to the high good. By following our duties as a good citizen and using our intellect, we can achieve happiness. “The secret of happiness is not to seek more, but to develop the ability to enjoy little.”
“No one is unhappy but because of himself” Seneca (4-65 BC) said, who saw happiness as the summit of a mountain to be conquered alone, according to virtue and our desires. Happiness is never in the past or in the future but in the present, from the actions we take in the present, but it is important to act with the heart!
While for Democrito (460-360 AC), happiness coincides with the tranquility of the soul, a calm and balanced soul, not troubled by passion and fears!
In short, the Greek philosophers had clear and different ideas about the concept of happiness but in the end very actual. We leave to you to meditate on a theme that thrill the human being for more than two centuries, but since we are dreamers, we like to end with these words….
“When I grow up, I want to be happy”