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10 everyday practices based on the Wisdom of Ancient Greeks

Learn from this iconic civilization to enrich your life

Coming from the fifth generation of a family-run business that farms and mills Greek ancient grains, the philosophy of my ancestors is my past, present and future. Even as I started my own business, I remained inspired by their wisdom, which is why I incorporated their virtues and holistic concepts into the company’s mission.

I realize in a fast-paced world the Ancient Greek approach to life is competing with modern influences, but no matter how busy we find ourselves, their wealth of knowledge remains timeless.

If you’re looking to lead a healthier lifestyle, improve your emotional well-being or find spiritual guidance, the members of this unforgotten society have the words to motivate and inspire you. Here are some popular Ancient Greeks whose quotes you can live by.

1. ”Moderation in everything” 

Little did lyricist, poet and one of the Seven Sages, Cleobulus (6th Century BC) realize what sociological implications his saying would have today. We live in a society that values extremes, and we often don’t see how this mentality negatively impacts us. This proverb is about finding a balance to live our best lives. For example, following a well-balanced diet and lifestyle can nourish not only the body, but also the mind and soul. 

2. “Walking is man’s best medicine” 

The benefits of exercise are nothing new. Considered the “Father of Western Medicine,” the quote of Hippocrates of Kos (460-377 BC) continues to hold true to modern research. According to experts, as little as 20 minutes of walking a day has shown to improve health by promoting weight loss, better memory, mood and sleep. Studies from Harvard also found it reduces the risk of heart disease. 

illustrations via arianna.gif

3. “The magic charm of sleep is our ally against sickness” 

Dramatist Euripides (484-406 BC) reminds us of the importance of a good night’s sleep. Ancient Greeks valued sleep as they felt their dreams were prophetic. They also admired Hypnos, the god of sleep, as he had the power to remove pain and suffering. 

4. “One should eat to live and not live to eat”

Credited as one of the founding philosophers of Western philosophy, Socrates (470-399 BC) could be an inspiration for those looking to follow healthier diets. The proverb sheds light on the human impulse to overeat. Our meals are meant to be enjoyable, yet their overall purpose is to nourish our bodies, not compromise our health.

5.“Freedom is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control”

As an entrepreneur and CEO, it’s difficult to be in a position of leadership and not worry about the things I cannot control. No matter where our lives take us, this is something stoic philosopher Epictetus (c. 55-c. 135 AD) professes and it’s an important message to remember; we need to stop stressing about the aspects of our lives we’re not in control of. 

6. “Character is destiny” 

Philosopher Heraclitus (535-475 BC) felt that our fate was not predetermined by outside forces. Instead, we are the creators of our own destiny. How can we create our future from within? Learn everyday, even something little. Reflect upon your soul and listen to what it’s telling you,  either through meditation or other means. 

7. “Be hospitable to foreigners, you may once be also one” 

This quote by dramatist Menander (342-290 BC) is similar to the mantra “treat others the way you want to be treated.” It can also be used as a reminder that we need to learn to give back and share kindness, even with strangers.

8. “Friends share everything” 

In addition to his contributions in geometry, Pythagoras of Samos (6th century BC), the philosopher and mathematician of the “Pythagorean Theorem” talks about the importance of friendship. Having true friends means more than borrowing personal items. The value of friendship means sharing your thoughts, dreams and fears as well. 

9. “A life without feasts is like a long road without inns”

With this quote by philosopher and atomic theory scientist Democritus (460-356 BC) you want to look past the literal meaning. This saying is a metaphor for celebrating life and learning to cherish not only the significant anniversaries, but the small wins.

10. “We all know that as we are beneficent towards Nature, it becomes beneficent toward us”

Even the ancient Greeks realized the importance of sustainability. Historian, mercenary, and philosopher Xenophon (430-354 BC) believed in loving the planet, respecting the lands of our ancestors and giving back to nature. 

Yannis Varellas is the founder and CEO of OLYRA, introducing in the US the first organic and NON-GMO breakfast biscuits based on the diet of Ancient Greeks.

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