> Happiness > Epicurean Tetrapharmakos
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Here are four rules that can be followed to help you live a happier life.
- Do not fear god
- Do not worry about death
- What is good is easy to get
- What is terrible is easy to endure
These may seem rather puzzling. However:
- Do not fear god: In some religions, gods are terrible punishers,
and all bad things are thought to be punishments for not living a good life.
If you do not fear the gods, you fear nothing. Imagine how much better your
life would be if all your fears melted away. If you believe in gods, you can
reframe them as your fearless supporters who take away your fears.
- Do not worry about death: Death will happen, whatever you do.
Worrying about death does nothing to prevent it. Likewise, worry about
anything does not change if or when it happens.
- What is good is easy to get: When we focus on what we cannot get,
we forget how good are the things we can get. If we want what we have and
can easily reach, and are grateful for these, then we worry less about
things that are beyond our reach.
- What is terrible is easy to endure: We worry about the things
that may hurt us and we create our own pain when we frame events in our
world as terrible. Yet if we did not do this, choosing not to see things as
terrible, then coping with the problems that the world throws at us is far
easier to handle.
These rules are the first four of the forty Epicurean Principal Doctrines
from Diogenes Laertius and provide a useful overview of the keys to Stoicism. 'Tetrapharmakos' means 'four
part cure', as tetra means 'four', and pharmakos means 'cure' (hence the modern
Further notes about the Tetrapharmakos, with more Epicurian and Stoic notes:
- Do not fear god: Greek gods were seen as perfect and sublime
beings. We should emulate their grace, not fear their anger.
- Do not worry about death: Epicurus described death as the
greatest fear, both in duration and intensity. He noted that being dead and
not existing was not a painful place.
- What is good is easy to get: Stoics view happiness as non-pain
rather than joy. Desire creates pain. Removing desire hence creates
- What is terrible is easy to endure: Epicurus noted that when we
are ill, it feels terrible, yet illnesses seldom last long. If we look
beyond our current pain, even though it seems it may last forever, we can
find relief in knowing that it will soon be over. Pleasure follows pain, so
perhaps we should focus more on this.
The four cures are all intended to reduce our most debilitating fears. If we
can fear less, then by definition we will be happier. No fear does not
automatically mean happiness, but fear certainly does negatively impact our
How you think about yourself, the world and what happens changes how you feel
about such things. You have control over what and how you think, so you have
control over how happy or unhappy you are.
Reframe Desire, Stop