“He has the most who is most content with the least” – Diogenes.
Cynicism was an ascetic philosophy school characterized by the renunciation of all comfort, luxury, and pleasure. Its followers believed that one can attain happiness by living a simple life–without wealth and power. When one of its most popular (and radical) member, Diogenes, told Alexander the Great to move out of his sun, Plato defined him as “Socrates gone mad.”
Despite rejecting possessions, fame and fortune, cynics enjoyed more happiness and freedom. To achieve the same state of mind, here are 5 important lessons you can learn from Cynics:
1. Live a simple life
Life is meant to be simple. We only need food, shelter, clothing, and relationships to live happily.
Unfortunately, despite having all of these things , people continue to become less satisfied with what they have. This discontent makes their lives a lot more complicated and stressful.
2. Live with humor
Cynics didn’t take life too seriously. In fact, they are the best people who can illustrate how a good laugh can keep you healthy. Take Diogenes, for example.
You can find a lot of humorous quotes from Diogenes in the surviving Cynic writings today. One good example is this:
“The proper time for lunch? If a rich man, when you will; if a poor man, when you can.”
3. Stop caring about what others think
History suggests that Diogenes masturbated in public. Most of the food he ate were from other people. He lived in a barrel and didn’t care about what other people would say about him.
The Cynics are a great source of inspiration in reducing social fears. Their indifference saved them a lot of time, worries, grief, and even jealousy.
4. Know unconditional happiness
Because Cynics weren’t dependent on any personal possession or power, they weren’t relying on anything for their happiness. Instead, they were happy with just the mere idea of being alive.
Learning from cynics, you must also strip off your desire for material things if you really want to be happy. If you rely your satisfaction on the amount of money you have or how powerful you are, you’ll never feel contented with what you have and with your life.
5. Be indifferent toward worldly success
Cynics, along with Stoics, knew the futility of pursuing money and social status. They believed that for us to be truly happy, we have to learn how to reject our desire for wealth, fame and power.
Unfortunately, it’s the other way around today. A lot of people work hard to attain wealth and fame in an attempt to cure their discontentment. However, as some millionaires already know, these things aren’t the solution. Although they can help make your life easier, they aren’t going to make you any happier.
Originally published at Dumb Little Man.