Saturday, 27 November 2010

Our happiness? Politicians only pretend to care.

The Greek word 'eudaimonia' is often translated as meaning 'happiness', 'joy', or human flourishing', - The art of being able to compromise with the real world, free from anxiety. The path to 'eudaimonia' was 'ataraxia', and 'ataraxia' means equilibrium. To attain this state one must have control over one's emotions. Diverging philosophies, the Epicureans, the Stoics, and the Sceptics wrestled with the art of 'how to live well'. In his Essays, the wise French man Michel de Montaigne lays out quite clearly his methods for living a 'good life'. "We should have wife, children, goods, and above all health, if we can: but we must not bind ourselves to them so strongly that our happiness depends on them. We must reserve a back shop all our own...."
The society we live in now disavows almost every aspect of Stoicism, Epicureanism, and scepticism. We have to have even more discipline in our lives if we wish to 'reserve the back shop for ourselves' that Montaigne sought in the 16th century. We are 24/24 bombarded with the gruesome details of an outside world, we cannot escape. But escape we must. We must try to step back if we are ever to achieve even a modicum of happiness.
Politicians say they are interested in our happiness, they seek our vote. Politicians and happiness just don't mix!

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