The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus believed that pleasure was the greatest good. In his interpretation of hedonism, pleasure is its sole intrinsic goal, which is achieved through the combination of the absence of fear and pain and a state of tranquility and satisfaction.
However, the modern understanding of Epicureanism can – wrongly – assume that a life of excess is the ultimate purpose. It’s wasn’t uncommon until the 20th century to come across people who loved to indulge in their sensual, sensory, and substantial appetites in an effort to achieve real pleasure. Nowadays, modern issues ranging from global warming to economic crisis have toned down these hedonist temptations. Indulging is perceived as a sin that doesn’t only put your health at risk, but that can also affect the survival of civilization. Ultimately, our indulgence in motor engines has led to dramatic environmental issues. Similarly, political and climatic crises all over the world have made us aware of our uniquely lucky position. Can you live an existence of excess when the rest of the planet is dying?
However, we need to reconnect with the epicurean meaning of indulging. Epicurus sought pleasure at an end, but he believed that moderation and self-control of one’s desires were vital to the exploration of pleasure. Ultimately, indulging makes you happy. No good reason would suggest that happiness is a bad thing per se. But excess cancels happiness. The modern Epicurean is a man of tastes and balance.
Replace sugar/fat cravings with real flavor
Though it can feel incredibly easy to crash on the couch with a giant pack of chips or chocolate biscuits – pick the one that appeals most – at the end of the week, it’s not exactly what Epicurus had in mind. In fairness to him, he may not have been familiar with the likes of Sprinkles or Oreo in his time, but his point remains valid. Epicurus valued the quality of a pleasurable event over the quantity of food that you could get. That’s precisely why he chose a life of modest restraints when it came to food. Epicurus had a love relationship with delicate ingredients, which in his mind could lead to happiness. The modern Epicurean may not be an adept of Greek delicatessens, but you have access to a variety of exclusive and delicate flavors you can choose from. If you’re the kind of gourmet who enjoys a fine pairing of alcohol and cheese, you will find great pleasure in a delightful cheese and whiskeys experience, for instance. If, on the contrary, you research something to satisfy your sweet tooth, a pairing of light patisserie and fragrant tea can be the perfect end of week blues remedy.
The fitness Epicurean
Indulging is about finding pleasure in most life activities. While Epicurus focuses his interest on subsistence factors, modern life covers a variety of aspects, including the desire to remain fit. Fitness is both a necessity – as it is the most natural way to maintain your health – and an act of vanity – you want to get fit to make your appearance more appealing. But, more importantly, the pleasure in fitness has shifted from a sense of self toward material attachments. It seems that nowadays, you can’t enjoy your workout unless you’ve spent humongous amounts on your fitness gear. The truth lies elsewhere. The activity encourages the production of hormones that naturally lift your mood. As working out makes you happy, there is no need to break the bank to create pleasure. If you know where to look, you can find high-quality equipment at an affordable cost, such as the Rock Bottom Golf range, for instance, that offers discounted items. Ultimately, you shouldn’t have to go down the excess route to take on the sports activities you are passionate about.
Get your beauty sleep without lazing around
It’s impossible to bring sleep and indulgence in the same sentence without worrying about people judging you. There is, unfortunately, a misconception about sleep in modern society. Indeed, did you know that one in three American isn’t getting enough sleep, which can dramatically affect your mood, health and your overall lifestyle? Nevertheless, if you express your interest in a sleep-in, people tend to assume you might be lazy. In reality, your life and work satisfaction will benefit from late morning sleep. You can catch up on some of the lost sleep, for instance. More importantly, you can enjoy the true pleasure of waking up without an alarm clock. A natural wakeup is a rare occasion in modern life, aka letting your body wake up gradually. While you can switch to a light therapy alarm clock to avoid the aggressive beep beep in the morning, it doesn’t replace the joy you get from staying a little longer in bed. Let your body decide when it’s time to get up this weekend.
No more shopping frenzy. Shop like a minimalist
Compulsive shopping is a mental disorder that can cause a lot of unhappiness. But shopping in itself can be an enjoyable activity. Choosing an item that can improve your lifestyle is highly pleasurable, whether you buy a new jacket or a book. But making it special is about exercising moderation and a clear mind. Minimalist shopping habits can not only help to tackle excess purchase, but they also make sure that you find pleasure in the items you buy. At the core of epicurean shopping, quality objects spark joy, and therefore you can buy less and still experience a happy buzz.
Be focused on everything that happens now
Epicurus has built his philosophical theory on establishing a direct connection to his emotions. By understanding honestly how you feel in the moment, you can identify what you need to achieve your pleasure – or to keep pain and fear at bay. In other words, staying mindful throughout the day is about exercising your inner pleasure sensor. You can also find that being present in the moment changes the way you engage with your surroundings and gives you more control over potential excess behaviors.
In the end, it is essential to recognize the dangers of excess. But excess doesn’t disqualify the value of pleasure. On the contrary, the modern Epicurean manages his pleasure in every aspect of life, from the indulging food experience you choose to allowing yourself a restful morning sleep.