Happiness Not Included

In ‘A Guide To Happiness’ – which was a recent British Channel Four documentary series presented by Alain De Botton – attention was given to Ancient philosopher Epicurus. This Greek had the idea that material things will not bring happiness, even though we are powerfully drawn to them. What we want does not necessarily make you happy.

His recipe for happiness was

  • Friends – not just occasionally, but constant companionship
  • Freedom – economically, and from having to work for a salary from an employer
  • Philosophy – quiet time to retire and consider carefully you anxieties

The philosophy behind this idea was fairly involved, and spawned large communes that existed for long after the Greek culture itself.

Towards the end of the program, the presenter approaches an advertising firm called St Lukes to think up some anti-materialist banners, which would counter the usual advertising that seeks to stimulate greed and desire for more material things. Their response was a sarcastic campaign satirizing the materialistic bent of most adverts:

Banners for the Mall

Shop your blues away

Don’t Worry – Shop

Cheer up – Spend

Bad Day at Work?

Take it out on your Credit Card!

Or summing it all up:

Be Happy with Shopping, TV and a yearly Holiday


Fill that void in your life with a product.

The final choice however, was a clever one, that points out material things are ok, but do not assume happiness:


One reply on “Happiness Not Included”

  1. Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. ~ Albert Schweitzer

    Happiness it boils down to this simple equation:

    Pleasure + flow + meaning = happiness

    With this formula the fleeting and passing nature of pleasure sticks around for longer. By this I mean if you are really engaged, focuses and engaged in what you do then you’ll enter a state of flow. You know you’re in a state of flow because:

    * are completely focused on the task at hand;
    * forget about yourself, about others, about the world around you;
    * lose track of time;
    * feel happy and in control; and
    * become creative and productive.

    The meaning of your life has to come from within you, rather then it be imposed on you by others. This is what’s called living an authentic life. While we adapt quickly to more money and material possessions, it seems we adapt less quickly, if at all, to meaningful things. This is also a vital component of contentment, because essentially you are not connected to your innermost self.

    Without that connection, it’s hard to feel a true meaning in some part of your life, and without the connection it’s hard to feel happiness, other than the transient pleasure from time to time as described earlier, that most of us have mistaken for real happiness.

Comments are closed.