How to live happy: A story by Socrates

how to live the good life by Socrates

Once upon a time, a man reached up to Socrates.

Man: Socrates, people say you have conquered thought. Help me for I am in a great fix and wish to free myself from the problem.

Socrates (rather taken aback by the sudden intrusion but still calm as always): Sure, ask away!

Man: O’ Socrates! I am deeply in love and there is no greater desire in my heart than to let the world know of this beautiful feeling of mine. I wish to propose marriage to her and have her for me and me alone.

Socrates: That’s cool. Congratulations.

Man: But that is not all, Socrates. Something concerns me to my bones and rattles my decisions in the depths of the night.

Socrates: Oh, sure. ‘sup?

Man:Love, as you know Socrates, is a weakness. Attachments are a weakness and a binding force. I do not wish to get stuck at one moment, in one place, with one person in life. Love would take away my freedom, my future, my choice to wander around the world and move ahead in life as I wish.

Socrates: True that!

Man: This keeps me up at night. The mere thought of being bound at one spot keeps me awake. I imagine how waking up without my lover beside me and I shatter with the thought. But then there are contrasting moments when I see a woman’s beauty in her prime and think to myself, “Thank Zeus I’m not engaged yet.” Because O’ great Socrates, if I were, I would not know the pleasure of having other women in life; Other women, that I may bed and wed.

Socrates: Bummer

Man: Socrates, as your great self, help me find a solution to this dilemma. Should I express my love and beg for her hand or shall I explore life and myself so that I can be sure that she’s the only true one that I wish to spend my life with.

Socrates takes a few moments for the perplexity and then shrugs.

Socrates: Like every decision in life, this one is yours to make. But allow me to tell you that whatever you decide, either way you will regret it.

Moral of the story: Right choices do not exist. We come across situations in life where the grief of the unknown constantly hinders our ability to decide. But that is when we need to make a firm decision and then move on. There will always be moments when you’d think you made the wrong decision. But the fact remains that you made the best decision at that point in time. There is absolutely no fruit for the person obsessing over what could have been.

The goal is to propel past the intuition that there is always a right and a wrong choice and if the result wasn’t according to your own wishes then you most certainly made the wrong decision. This is a self-depreciating way of living life and unfortunately, the default setting of many. Living in such a way would lead to “Analysis Paralysis”, making you delusional and unable to carry out important decisions in life at the time when there is a dire need for them to be made.

You need to realize that every decision has its own pros and con and that you shall never have the best of everything. Suffering during the journey or having to undergo great hardships and sudden unhappy situations does not necessarily mean that your decisions are to blame. Never can you know what could have been until you venture down the other path and that is impossible now as that the time has gone. It might even be worse, for all you know.

Whenever at crossroads, decide a path and venture down it with great zeal, forgetting the moment of the decision as soon as it passes. Or as poem goes: ‘ Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.’

How to live the good life by Socrates

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