Do the Philosophy of Happiness of Diogenes and Epicurus

The philosophy of happiness studies the nature of happiness and how to attain it.[1] Aristippus of Cyrene, who lived from 435 BC to about 355 BC, was apparently the first philosopher to develop a complete philosophy of happiness. Aristippus was a student of Socrates. He is considered to be the founder of hedonism, which claims that the road to happiness is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. To Aristippus, physical pleasure is the true meaning of life.[2]

Epicurus, who lived from 341 BC to 270 BC, believed that one should live a happy, self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He recommended the path of the small pleasure: "Send me a small piece of cheese, so that I may indulge myself whenever I wish."[3] Epicurus taught the importance of being frugal in external things (knowing your "point of enough"), providing for the necessities of life, putting inner happiness in the center of life, and working every day on improving your mind. His goal was to overcome all fears and unnecessary desires, and thereby live like a god among men.

Diogenes of Sinope advocated asceticism. By following an ascetic way of life, one can attain the state of inner peace and inner happiness. According to legend, Diogenes lived in a barrel, living like a yogi in a cave. Diogenes was the first man who described himself as a "world citizen". He saw himself in all other beings and in the whole world, and was one with all. He lived in the manner described in yoga as "Sat-Chit-Ananda" (existence - unity - bliss).[4]

These are the three main philosophies of happiness. Which is right? What is your way? This article will help you to decide for yourself.


  1. Think about your life. Ask the big questions that are so often left unanswered. What are your goals? What do you want to attain in life?
    • "My goals are ... " (choose yours: health, wealth, having friends, a good job, being loved, travel, a big house, helping those in need, promoting love and peace, alleviating poverty and hunger, etc.).
  2. Reflect on inner and outer happiness. Research shows that 90 percent of happiness comes from inside, with only 10 percent derived from external things like a great partner, a lot of money, or a big career.[5] Consider investing your energy in a healthy life, meditation, positive thinking, and working for a happier world.
  3. Think about enlightenment. Enlightenment is the greatest form of happiness. Find your personal way of spirituality. Center your life in God or in a higher reason like truth, love, inner happiness or enlightenment.
    • What are the spiritual exercises you want to do daily? Some suggestions include: yoga, meditation, reading, positive thinking, walking, praying, doing good, etc.
  4. Make a good plan for your life. In yoga there are four phases of a full life: good learning in childhood; good work as adult; a good relationship or family; and good self-realization. If you're enlightened, you're happy at a high level. You know how to master the crises of life and to grow in your inner happiness despite such moments, and at all times. You live in love, peace, unity and happiness. And you need no outer things to be happy. If they come it is good. If they don´t come, it is also good. You're independent from other people and outer wealth. But you can have it, if you want. You only must know how to manage wise inner happiness and outer pleasure.
  5. Live as a philosopher of happiness. Desire inner happiness. You can go the fast way to enlightenment like Diogenes (live like a yogi), the middle way to enlightenment like Epicurus (live inner and outer happiness at the same time) or the way to unenlightenment like Aristippus (outer pleasure and inner suffering). It is likely that one or other of the suggested ways resonates with you, or maybe even a combination. It is recommended that you apply each philosophical approach to your own life and experiences, to work out what fits you best.
  6. Think about life, try out, find your way and realize your inner happiness. This is the essence of philosophy. Buddha, Diogenes, Epicurus, Socrates and also Jesus showed us the path. We have to go the way of inner happiness by ourselves. Let us all succeed. May we all find our path of wisdom, love, peace and light.


    • Professor: Whoever has tried to get in line Epicurus and Buddha has misunderstood one of these theories. There is no reincarnation. Epicurus was an atheist.
      Yogi: I maintain, that the doctrine of enlightenment is the link between Buddha and Epicurus and the central point in the understanding of Epicurus and of the entire philosophy. You may doubt on the possibility of reincarnation. Epicurus would have done so. Here he made a mistake because his scientific knowledge was limited. To err is human. People can make mistakes.
      Epicurus was a theist and an atheist at the same time. Although he believed in gods, he did not believe in a life after death. Epicurus' letter to Menoeceus, "For there are gods, because we are able to recognize them, but they are different from what the people imagine."[6]
      For me the gods are the enlightened ones. And here I see your main problem. As you did not experience the enlightenment, you can not understand the depth of the philosophy of Epicurus. You don´t see the connection between Buddha and Epicurus. The essence of the path to enlightenment is to live in the quiet and consistently work on the thoughts. That we find at Buddha and at Epicurus.
  • Atheist: Jesus and Epicurus are different.
    Yogi: Jesus and Epicurus are not contradictory. We can understand Jesus and Epicurus as enlightened. To enlightenment you come through sacrificing your ego. You have to take God (the enlightenment) as being more important than your worldly wishes. You have to take the happiness of the world as being more important than your own happiness. This is the way of all-embracing love.
    Jesus taught to love God (the goal of enlightenment) and to love your fellow man (all beings). Epicurus taught how to live like a God (Buddha) among the people and to give all people the knowledge of inner happiness, "Friendship dances around the globe, proclaiming, that we all shall awaken to bliss." [7]
  • Woman: Epicurus died of kidney stones, namely, of a psychosomatic illness; that would indicate partnership problems.
    Yogi: I suspect that Epicurus had worked too much on his emotions and had suppressed them too much. That's what many spiritual people do and also many supporters of positive thinking. I teach to live the emotions in a way that is socially harmless. In my groups, I do yoga regularly with anger and mourning practices. In particular, Epicurus could have suppressed his sexual and relationship desires. I prefer a gentle middle way, where you are centered in your spirituality (in God, in the light), and also live enough of your physical and social needs. This is not always easy for a small Yogi.


  • The center of philosophy is the question of the meaning of life. Who goes through life without this issue, lives unconscious. A person is one only by thinking philosophically. Everyone should be a philosopher. Blessed is the one, who finds his purpose of life through his philosophical thinking. He can live wisely and strategically. He will receive a full life. Live happily. Live with the happiness research and the philosophy of happiness.
  • On the path of inner happiness, all inner tensions dissolve. We systematically resolve the tensions from the body and the mind. If the spirit becomes free of his fears (attachment to suffering situations) and desires (attachment to external pleasures), inner peace appears. We get into a cosmic consciousness. Lasting inner happiness evolves. We are content with ourselves and our lives. We have released all external things at a deeper level and thus realize our true self.
  • Basically, the way of outer pleasure and the way of inner happiness are opposites. Follow the right principles of life. The way of the outer pleasure creates tensions (a big ego, wishes, inner stress) and you become inwardly unhappy. The path of the outer pleasure causes at the long-term a growth into the inner unhappiness. We are never internally really satisfied, and thus we seek to go more extreme the way of the external pleasure. Until we recognize its failure.
  • People are different and have different ways of inner happiness. For some people it is good to live as an extreme ascetic (Diogenes). For some people it is right to try the path of the outer pleasure enough, until they are ready for the path of inner happiness. For most people, a medium way with some outer joy is the best spiritual way.

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