All the practical rules given by Epicurus aim at conducting man to happiness by controlling passions and desires. The wise man is easily satisfied. He sees that little is necessary for supplying the wants of nature, and for emancipating from pain; that imaginary wealth knows no limit, whereas the riches required by nature may be easily acquired; that the most simple nourishment affords as much enjoyment as the most luxurious, and is at the same time far more conducive to health; that therefore the restriction of wants rather than the increase of possessions makes really rich; and that he who is not satisfied with little will never be satisfied at all. He therefore can like Epicurus live upon bread and water, and at the same time think himself as happy as Zeus. He eschews passions which disturb peace of mind and the repose of life; considering it foolish to throw away the present in order to obtain an uncertain future, or to sacrifice life itself for the means of life, seeing he can only once enjoy it. He therefore neither gives way to passionate love, nor to forbidden acts of profligacy. Fame he does not covet; and for the opinions of men he cares only so far as to wish not to be despised, since being despised would expose him to danger. Injuries he can bear with calmness. He cares not what may happen to him after death; nor envies any one the possessions which he does not himself value.
From The Art Of Happiness; Or, The Teachings Of Epicurus (1933), by Henry Dwight Sedgwick.
The philosophy of Epicurus, as we find it in the books, comprised physics, logic and ethics, but it is only with his theory of ethics that I concern myself, and the value of that theory to-day lies in this, that Epicurus was not a metaphysician (and therefore unintelligible to the man in the street), but a fastidious gentleman who, whether owing to his nature, to Hellenic traditions, or to the beauty of the places in which he lived, or whatever else the cause, was averse to most of the things that we modern Americans set store by, notoriety, publicity, approval of the multitude, riches, luxury, noise, jocularity, indelicate literature. His doctrine was that of eudemonistic egoism; he believed that life is good and that the object of living is to obtain all possible personal good, and that the best means to obtain that object are health, frugality, temperance, privacy, culture and friendship.