Prior to the beginning of this semester, my understanding of happiness was profoundly influenced by my own family and my close friends. My original interpretation of complete happiness would mean having a financially stable life with a good job, a house, and the ability to fulfill all my materialistic desires. I mainly believed that the key to happiness was wealth as that would mean that I could get anything I want and do anything I want. Before starting this course, I had never really thought of the idea that happiness could have a meaning much deeper than just a feeling of what individuals feel.
As I started learning about the various insights on happiness during this course, the study of stoicism was really interesting and grasped my attention immediately. The stoic view of ‘the good life’ is a life of rationality and reason, it is living a virtuous life to the best of our capabilities, that’s what they believed separated human beings from animals.
This stoic perspective has impacted me as it allowed me to understand that happiness does not rely on impermanent materialistic objects, to enjoy the pleasures when available, but to be indifferent in their absence. Being impartial to judgment is a key part of stoicism as it allows one to see things and events as they are without any preconceived opinions that may affect
the way they perceive things. This stoic perspective has impacted me as it allowed me to understand that happiness does not rely on impermanent materialistic objects, to enjoy the pleasures when available, but to be indifferent in their absence. Being impartial to judgment is a key part of stoicism as it allows one to see things and events as they are without any preconceived opinions that may affect the way they perceive things. This viewpoint from the stoics significantly influenced my current view on happiness and allowed me to understand that happiness does not rely on temporary pleasure from materialistic things but is unconcerned in its absence. After reading about the stoics and based on their reason I have
begun to act virtuously when seeing wealth as opposed to my previous reasoning of what I thought true happiness was. My understanding of happiness before I started the readings was very narrow-minded and shallow, but stoicism has made me realize that even if I fulfill all my ‘desires’ if I had even more money, I would still not get true happiness in my life.
Understanding that accepting what simply can’t be changed had shifted my views about certain actions and I felt that my sense of happiness had changed from a life of possessions to a life of virtue and rationality. The view of stoicism is extremely appealing to me as it states
that individuals should achieve happiness and contentment irrespective of where they belong in society
Enlightening myself about stoicism and other readings during this semester has made me challenge my own views of what I consider happiness to be. Previously influenced by family, social media, and movies, I was constantly aiming for an urgent release of pleasure whenever I bought things such as expensive clothes. I thought that the little pleasure I used to get from these things was true happiness only to realize that the reason I was caring so much about these materialistic things was because the pleasure I would get would go away very soon forcing me to keep buying things. After learning about stoicism, I have started to accept things as they are without being too excited or angry. I have also started to feel gratitude for what I have in life right now and also formed a more pleasant bond with my own individual nature. I have come to realize that my previous view of happiness was not correct and that it should not be narrowed to temporary items but instead be a way of living the good life, an internal acceptance of our own human nature.
- Sharples, R. W. (2014). Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics: an introduction to Hellenistic philosophy. Routledge.