The Philosophy of Happpiness
As a result, Aristotle developed the concept of “eudaimonia”—the pursuit of happiness by actively expressing true virtue, or having good moral character. This concept is also slightly different from how we understand happiness now, because he believed that it was not a momentary state but rather a lifelong pursuit; one can only achieve happiness at the end of their life.
In eudaimonia, one is seeking the highest human good. Aristotle introduced the idea of “flourishing,” which we discussed at length in a previous model—we are flourishing when we are #crushingit. In this state, autonomy, self-acceptance, and mastery are being met. We have a general sense of psychological well-being. This aligns well with our current understanding of happiness.
Though scholars argued and corrected each other throughout history, many of the philosophies of happiness reflected common understandings that happiness requires:
Satisfaction with work, relationships, health
The presence of positive affect
Low levels of negative affect
As we begin to examine our own happiness—if we have it, how we can increase it, how alcohol impacts it—consider how these different theories apply to your own understanding of happiness. We’re not here to tell you that happiness, for you, must look like living a virtuous life—we introduce these concepts so you can gain new language and insights into how happiness shows up for you. Do you jive with Aristotle, or are you more in line with Plato? Has hedonism been a dominant goal in your life that no longer aligns with your path? Does eudaimonia feel like a better fit now? Only you can know these things, but we can take a look at them together.
Aristotle (2000). Nicomachean Ethics. R. Crisp (ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Kesebir, P., & Diener, E. (2008). In pursuit of happiness: empirical answers to philosophical questions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 117-125.