5 Lessons You Can Learn From Cynics

By Diego Arzola

September 6, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

lessons from cynics

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.

For Cynics, however, these things are more than enough for a person to thrive. For them, it’s possible to live a happy life even without all these things.

Diogenes lived in a barrel. He needed little contact with people and all he ever had was a simple robe to cover his body.

See Also: 5 Steps to Do Less in Life

2. Live with humor

happy life

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 for example, Diogenes.

Despite his primitive conditions, Diogenes spent his life worry-free- even with a good dose of humor. His outlook in life is considered to be one of the main reasons behind his long life.

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 barrels and didn’t care about what other people would say about him.

The Cynics is 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

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 your life.

See Also: 10 Secrets To A Happy and Fulfilled 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.


Diego Arzola

Writer at Arzola.org. I help people improve their lives. Minimalism, self-help, productivity, and lifestyle are the topics covered.

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