Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
All human beings desire happiness, they desire happiness in a variety of ways. They believe external conditions are going to lead them to happiness. Such as reputation, social status, relationships, wealth, etc. Seneca will present how external conditions will only lead to avoidable happiness, he will give us his belief on what true happiness is in one of his writings called “On the happy life”. It is a practical guide for how one should live one’s life. It is an ancient “self-help” book. Seneca is a late stoic philosopher who was inspired by the Greek philosophers. So, what makes you happy?
In our present life we tend to care about what others have to say or think of us, we believe that their approval is needed for us to feel the satisfaction of being liked. We believe we have to be up to date with the latest phones, shoes, accessories, etc. While many people believe that they need to have the approval of others, I believe we need to focus on what truly makes us happy instead of what makes others happy. It is important for us to remind ourselves what true happiness is. True happiness is following the guidance of nature. The guidance of nature is the natural order; fate: remembering that all things happen for a reason. We only have so much time on this earth for it to be spent on avoidable happiness. We can not control what others say or do, but we can control what we say or do. We need to be happy with what we have and what we have been given. We need to be at peace with one’s self. We should not be anxious, frustrated, depressed, etc. If things are beyond our control, we need to accept it. If we are able to change our circumstances then we will. People throughout their life carry with them all their mistakes, failures, and scares. We need to learn to let go of this, so we can move on and focus ourselves on what is yet to come. We can not change what happened, but we can change what is yet to come.
We want to be happy. Everyone wants to be. It one of the most rewarding things we can accomplish in life. The reality is that many of those around us are not happy. They are not happy because they have not studied what it means to be happy. To call happiness a pursuit is deceitful. Most people go after it. They buy unnecessary things, they eat things that only makes them happy for a certain amount of time, they go after popularity and riches and fortune, but none of these things can guarantee a person true happiness. The only guarantee of true happiness can be found within yourself.
Seneca believes that true happiness is within one’s inner self. While many people believe that having external things such as reputation, makes one happier, Seneca believes that it is not true. He believes happiness is being at peace with ourselves. Seneca does not believe there are multiple paths to happiness, just his. Although Seneca accurately presents what happiness is, I do not agree with his mentioning of his path being the only way to achieve happiness. There are multiple ways to achieve happiness. We can find happiness by permitting ourselves to have things, but not be enslaved to them. Such as posting a picture on social media, but not allowing ourselves to be slaves of how much “likes” or “reacts” we get to it. Just being happy and at peace with the picture that was posted.
If Seneca were alive today he might view our society as a competitive society, and believe we value external things rather than internal things. Seneca would view our society this way because we tend to compare ourselves to others. We are obsessed with ‘feeling good.’ We are obsessed with what others have to say or think of us. We are obsessed with making others happy first instead of ourselves. We get saddened on things we do not have instead of being happy and grateful for the things we do have and have been given. Seneca would suggest that our society is not following the correct path he believes would lead to true inner peace/happiness.
In the same way that he compares humans to sheep. Seneca believes we are like sheep in herds because we follow what other people are doing instead of separating ourselves from the crowd and following our own true happiness. It is so easy to look at other successful people and feel unhappy in comparison. Every moment of the day we are filled with information from the news or social media, and always reminded of those famous people, what they’re accomplishing, and how much more important they are. Society is built around this kind of idea. That there is no kind of formula for happiness unless we achieve we can achieve it.
When you start to compare yourself to those who are around you, you are setting yourself up. You are looking for all the things you don’t yet have, at all the things you haven’t yet accomplished. You are setting yourself up because instead of focusing on making a significant amount of progress within yourself, you are wasting your limited amount of time saddening on how much are not like that other person. Do not start comparing yourself to those around you or others. Instead, as Seneca mentions, the only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday.
Happiness is made up of your actions. If you live being a bully to others, judging or criticizing others, you will not achieve happiness, you will not achieve being at peace with yourself or those around you. You will just end up harming yourself by harming others. Instead, make up for what you have done wrong. Rather love and help those around you. You should not let your ego/pride get in the way from making things right with others.
We should not criticize or judge others but instead help them to become a better person and take note for ourself. We should not force of beliefs our thoughts onto others. We should learn to be happy for ourselves and for those around us. We should always aim to do the best of our ability, but also note to appreciate what we have accomplished so far. We need to be happy with what we currently have and are working to have. We need to live in the present with what we currently have. It’s okay if you are not the boss of the company. It also okay if you are not working you way towards it. You may be happier living in a simply home, but is closer to your friends and family that most matter to you. We should learn to help those around us. Maybe some has a problem, and you are able to help. By doing so, you can turn their day around and help them feel better. Life is too short to be focused on the situations or things that are unavoidable. Our life will eventually end. What distinguishes happy people apart from those who are too focused on unavoidable things is that we can achieve true happiness and enjoy our life with what we have and what is yet to come, while the others watch their life pass by them. Be grateful for every morning you are given to wake up to. Look at every experience, opportunity, and day you are given as a precious gift. You were created to do amazing and beautiful things on this planet that only you can do. Focus on what you have set out for yourself, don’t focus on what other people have set out to do. Do not be a victim to the future and what comes with it.