We all say we want to be happy, but happiness is often out of our grasp. Maybe the problem is not so much with us, but with the concept of happiness.
A better concept is eudaimonia, which means 'good soul,' 'good spirit,' or 'good god.'
Unlike happiness, eudaimonia is not an emotion: It is a state of being or doing. It is more stable and cannot so quickly be taken away from us.
Eudaimonia is a much deeper and richer concept than happiness and is viewed in terms of living a worthwhile life. It has everything to do with hard work.
Socrates equated eudaimonia with wisdom and virtue, stating that he who is not wise cannot be happy.
Plato broadly agreed with Socrates. Plato writes that justice and injustice are to the soul as health and disease are to the body. For Plato, an unjust man cannot be happy because he is not in ordered control of himself.
For Aristotle, a thing is best understood at its end, purpose, or goal. The goal that is an end-in-itself is by understanding the unique function of a thing. Our unique function, says Aristotle, is our capacity to reason.
Thus, our supreme good is to develop our thinking skills, guard against lies, and train and master our emotions. In time, we will make better choices, do more meaningful things, and enjoy ever-increasing satisfaction from all we have become and done.
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