We may forget to talk about happiness; it can easily happen these days. And if we talk about it, we may end up with a wild list of all kinds of desires and phantasies, from cuddling a fluffy rabbit to having a Bacardi on the beach. And what will that bring?

That was the situation the Roman philosopher Seneca faced, when his elder brother Gallio asked him for advice on how to lead a life of happiness. Seneca the Younger wrote a treatise for him and called it “De vita beata”, about a life that leads towards happiness.




What does he recommend? Well, that’s easier asked than said, but all in all he wants us to think about the following, and that can be done anywhere: at the table in the kitchen, on a walk with the dog, or as a continuation of a story about what one of you has experienced.


Seneca wants us to think about when we are really happy: is happiness an individual thing (just me), or a shared experience / feeling (together with others? And is it a state which only lasts a short time, or is true happiness when it lasts long (and how can that be achieved)?


So, where is the ‘real’ happiness: in A, B, C or D? Or is it a mixture of everything, somewhere in the middle (E)?

Screenshot 2020-03-25 at 09.16.50





[Pieter Mostert, 25 March 2020]

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