EUDAIMONIA
-Happiness and beyond

There are many untranslatable words in Greek and Latin, that we still use the same words till date. They have a meaning/ definition to it but there aren’t any replaceable words. Such words are to be embraced.

One such untranslatable word is EUDAIMONIA which refers to higher forms of happiness which is attainable only by living a virtuous life.

Eudaimonia indeed, this term is fundamental to fields such as positive psychology, where it is typically recognized as one of two main types of happiness along with hedonic happiness. Hedonic happiness, also known as “subjective wellbeing” refers to good emotions and assessments of life satisfaction. Simply said, pleasure and enjoyment. That’s all very fine. However, is that all there to happiness? I’m sure most people would agree that the answer is ‘no’.

The word has an intriguing etymology. In classical Greece, and indeed throughout the world at that time, happiness was viewed as mostly beyond one’s control. Happiness is one of the most difficult words to define. Mystical happiness has nothing to do with the happiness of powerful men or ordinary people.

We come across various definitions of this word in our daily lives. There is also a large and diverse variety of approaches to this concept in philosophy.

“All mortals go in search of happiness, the sign that tells us none of them have it.” 

                                    -Baltasar Gracián

Most individuals suffer more than they need to because of their inability to manage their thoughts. However, the person who makes a serious effort to fix their weakness, or who seeks to dominate their inner voice, is unusual. However, when we are going through a hard time in our lives, we prefer to focus outward. We blame our unhappiness on other people, society, or lack of income, social standing, power, or fame.

 “Always seeking to conquer myself rather than fortune, to change my desires rather than the order of the world, and generally believing that nothing outside of our thoughts is completely under our control, so that after we have done our best in external matters, what remains is absolutely impossible, at least as far as we are concerned.”

                                   –Rene Descartes

While there is no doubt that the outside world presents multiple problems, our environment may not be the strongest factor of our well-being. For as humans, we have a unique ability to create pain or pleasure regardless of our environment. We can turn a peaceful environment into the worst of hells or find mental peace in the midst of tragedy simply by thinking.

Most people tend to control the situation and not their thoughts. We will have a play going in our mind on how to react to a particular situation to only to find out that we have reacted the opposite when that situation actually comes.

The great Stoic philosopher Epictetus, provided a practical guidance for breaking free from the self-imposed chains of our sometimes-torturous thought patterns.

“You must be one person, either good or bad. You must either work on your ruling principle, or work on externals, practice the art either of what is inside or of what is outside, that is: play the role either of a philosopher or of a non-philosopher.”

                                         –Epictetus

People can be seen living happily without any luxuries. We also witness wealthy individuals having a good time. However, everyone encounters things in life that are beyond their control and lead to misery. Imagine being disappointed at a destination wedding because it did not live up to your expectations. And being satisfied with a low-cost wedding since you’ll have the greatest honeymoon.

It is your thought process, not the place or people, that will make you happy. Happiness is only a feeling, yet it is difficult to achieve. Some even believe that too much happiness will bring terrible news. Because they are afraid of being too happy. It is true that anything in excess is bad. But, if too much happiness is bad, what does one should be? At the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy before going to bed. What could be better than dying happy?

When a person realises, they have an illness and will die within an year. What will that person do? He or she will choose to be happy in their little lifetime. Then why can’t a normal person choose to be happy when they have lots of years to be?

Happiness, I’ve heard, can be addictive and contagious. Isn’t that the best kind of addiction? Why do we choose to be sad when we can choose to be happy? People who learn to control their thoughts are more likely to achieve a successful life than those who feel that in order to be happy, they must first reach some stereotypical view of material achievement. The Stoics held this viewpoint because they realised that our power over the external events of our lives is limited.

“Some things are up to us and some are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions – in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices. . .”

                                       -Epictetus

IN CONCLUSION

Hedonic living is defined as seeking pleasure in the current moment. Aristotle hated the hedonistic lifestyle of pleasure seeking. He supported eudaimonism because he believed that happiness came from doing what was worth doing rather than hitting the feel-good button. Positive psychology refers to this way of life as ‘eudaimonic well-being,’ and it is defined by having meaning and purpose in life, realising one’s potential, and being a part of something bigger than oneself. However, the eudaimonic way of being might be perceived as overly earnest and morally superior, which can lead to personal hardship.

Positive psychology does not take a clear stand on the hedonistic versus eudaimonic issue, but new research suggests that pursuing engagement and purpose leads to greater happiness than seeking immediate pleasure. Positive psychology likewise does not take a clear stand on whether happiness is an objective or subjective phenomenon.