Eudaimonia – Aristotle’s Definition Of Happiness
The noted Greek philosopher, Aristotle defined happiness as:
The Exercise Of Vital Powers, Along Lines Of Excellence, In A Life Affording Them Scope.
Before we expand on that definition, let’s first talk about who Aristotle was.
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher. He was a student of Plato and a teacher of Alexander the Great.
That right there makes for a pretty impressive begin again!
He wrote on many subject, including but not limited to physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology.
Quite simply, when you put Aristotle together with his teacher, Plato and Socrates (Plato’s teacher), the three of them form the basic foundation for much of Western philosophical thought.
Aristotle is one of my idols. While I don’t agree with everything he said, he definitely gives me lots of things to think about.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately since listening to a series of lectures on Aristotle is the concept of Eudaimonia.
Eudaimonia and happiness are similar concepts.
Eudaimonia is a contented state of being happy and healthy and thriving.
Eudaimonia is the exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life according them scope.
Let’s define a few of the meaningful words and phrases in that statement.
To exercise is putting something into action, use, operation, or effect. Something that is vital is a thing that is of or pertaining to life, a thing that has exceptional energy, liveliness, or force of personality, something that is necessary to the existence, continuance, or well-being of something. It is indispensable. It is basic.
strength is the ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.
clearly, Aristotle felt it was important to act if we want to be truly alive. Just look at the words he chose to use.
Exercise stands for putting into action.
Vital stands for life, energy, existence.
strength stands for the ability to act.
Aristotle was undoubtedly a man who did not believe in sitting around and letting the world come to him. He was proactive. He chose to go after the world.
That’s what we must consciously choose to do.
If we truly want to be happy, we must go after the world and not wait for it to come to us. We must take action.
The trick is to make sure that the actions we take are appropriate for the circumstances and ones that will get us where we want to go.