in ,

12 of History’s Greatest Philosophers Reveal the Secret to Happiness

Today most of us seek happiness through materialistic elements, and there’s always something amiss in life. The greatest thinkers and philosophers in history – from Buddha, Thoreau to Socrates and Kierkegaard – have shared the most crucial ingredients to life’s happiness.

Below, we explore how to discover the true meaning of life from these powerful and enigmatic philosophers.

Gautama Buddha

“There is no path to happiness: Happiness is the path” ~ Gautama Buddha

Gautama Buddha taught us that “journey is the destination”. He propagated that people can find happiness and fulfilment through various life experiences. The end goal is non-existence because we create happiness throughout our journey.


“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less” ~ Socrates

Socrates is amongst the greatest thinkers in history. According to him, happiness is not achieved through external accolades and rewards. It is derived from internal success. We can appreciate life’s pleasures by reducing our needs.

Bertrand Russell

“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness” ~ Bertrand Russell.


Bertrand Russell was a lover of logic, science and mathematics. So, it was completely unlikely of him to ponder on subjects such as life and happiness. However, he offered a great explanation on how to achieve happiness. He believed that one could find happiness if they surrender to bodily emotions, feelings and needs.


“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large” ~ Confucius.

Confucius talks about happiness in his book “The Power of Positive Thinking” – it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Happiness replicates more and more, when we realize its existence.

John Stuart Mill

“I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them” ~ John Stuart Mill

A titan of liberalism – John Stuart Mill is a crucial historical personality. He is known to propagate the gospel of liberty. He adopted and spread the ancient Greek philosophy of happiness – use life to serve a purpose.

READ THISWhat happened during the Carboniferous period? Here are the facts.


“The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not” ~ Seneca

(We just released a new eBook: The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Developing Mental Toughness. We highlight 20 of the most resilient people in the world and break down what traits they have in common. We then equip you with 10 resilience-building tools that you can start using today–in your personal life or professional career. Check it out here.)

Focus on internal actions, they will guide you towards the happy path is what Seneca believed in.

Henry David Thoreau

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was a civil disobedience advocate and a transcendentalist author. However, his happiness concept is a passive one. He was all for breaking convention. He believed in living in the moment.

 Soren Kierkegaard

“Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard believed that happiness arrives from being present in the moment and experiencing the ride. The moment we start taking our problems as experiences, we will attain satisfaction.

Lao Tzu

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are peace, you are living in the present” ~ Lao Tzu



“Happiness depends upon ourselves” ~ Aristotle

Aristotle was a student of Plato. His idea of happiness was that it is self-created and it is our responsibility to protect it.

Friedrich Nietzsche

“Happiness is the feeling that power increases, that resistance is being overcome” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche was a renowned mustachioed nihilist. His conceptualization of happiness was that, it stems out of the control we have in our surroundings.


“The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depends upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily” ~ Plato

Plato was a student of Socrates. And both shared the same approach to happiness. Plato believed happiness was all about personal growth. We can achieve it via our achievements and accomplishments.


RELATED ARTICLE: Top 7 Most Powerful Women in History

More people like you...

… are supporting independent media and education platforms like Ideapod. Unlike many other media organizations, we have decided to make our writing free and accessible to all.

We have a vision of a world where power is returned to the people. Where individuals are inspired to break through limiting paradigms to find their own sources of creativity.

This is as much an inner-journey as it is about changing the world. That’s why our writing ranges from personal development to world issues.

We need your support to continue doing what we do. If you find value in the articles you’re reading, please consider becoming a Prime member for as little as $4 monthly. You’ll experience Ideapod without advertisements and get special access to new products. Most importantly, you’ll be supporting a platform seeking to bring power back to within the people.

Thank you.

Be the first to comment on this article at Ideapod Discussions

A Zen Master Explains a Little Known Technique That Will Help You Calm Your Mind

10 Amazing Life Lessons You Can Learn From Albert Einstein