Ancient Greek place of businessNegotiate is derived from the Latin word negotium which means business. It is a compound word made up from nec(g) meaning ‘not’ and otium meaning ‘leisure’.

Interestingly, business is defined by the absence of leisure. It seems that leisure was as important to the ancient world as it is to us today. In fact, two Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Epicurus, spent some of time exploring the best way to spend leisure.

How do you like to spend your leisure time? Playstation? Film? Football? Seeing your friends? For Aristotle, leisure was no laughing matter. He would regard those past times as mere “playing”; a sort of antidote to work. He felt that the one main thing that distinguishes humans from other life on earth is their ability to reason. So to be an excellent human you should use your leisure time exercising your reason for its own sake, and there was no better way to achieve this than through philosophy and science. Fun times!

If the idea of spending your leisure time reading Descartes doesn’t appeal, then maybe Epicurus is the man for you. He felt that, in their natural state, humans wish to be free of pain and fear. So the main purpose of life is to pursue pleasure and to shy away from unpleasant and dangerous situations. Before you rush off and spend all your money on indulgences, you should know that Epicurus did not mean to promote that type of lifestyle, but a simple life free from worry. For him, leisure could be used as a haven in a difficult world.