Is flattery the key to success?


One definition of happiness is ‘ability to live life on your own terms.’ But sometimes, we define our happiness based on what others do, and then we try to ‘catch up’ with them compromising our own core values.

Aristippus, a Greek philosopher gained a comfortable position in the Kingdom through constant flattery of the King.

Aristippus once saw Diogenes, another Greek philosopher, dining on a meager meal of lentils and advised, “Learn to flatter the king and you will not have to live on lentils.”

Diogenes replied, “Learn to live on lentils and you will never have to flatter anyone.”

Following is the full story from the book Isaac Asimov’s Treasury of Humor: A Lifetime Collection of Favorite Jokes by Isaac Asimov

Aristippus of Cyrene and Diogenes of Sinope were contemporary philosophers of fourth century B.C. Greece. Aristippus preached pleasure as the greatest good and had a prominent position in the court of Dionysius, powerful ruler of Syracuse on Sicily. Diogenes on the other hand, held that all possessions were corrupting and favored a life of rigid virtue, which could be achieved only in poverty.

Aristippus once met Diogenes when the latter was engaged in washing lentils prior to making himself the soup that was the main article of his diet.

Aristippus said, “Oh, Diogenes, if you could but learn to do a small thing such as flattering Dionysius, you would not have the sad fate of living on lentils.”

And Diogenes answered, “Oh, Aristippus, if you could but learn to do a small thing such as living on lentils, you would not have the sad fate of having to flatter Dionysius.”


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