Aristotle in his many works has provided numerous interpretations of eudaimonia, explaining it as something reflecting the pursuit of virtue, excellence and the best within us. According to him, eudaimonia is a rational activity aimed at the pursuit of what is worthwhile in life.
Having an intention to be virtuous was an important factor for eudaimonia.
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Eudaimonia is a term which comes from Aristotle’s work called ‘Nicomachean Ethics’ and means individual well-being and happiness. It combines the prefix eu (meaning good) and daimon (spirit).
Socrates also delved in goodness and the virtues of knowledge leading us to achieve ultimate good.
A life of satisfying one’s appetites, like material wealth, lust, power is a life suitable to beasts and is a laughable way to live.
A rational life with empathy, virtuosity and courage is the pursuit of eudaimonia in an everyday setting.
Though fate or luck does play a role in our long-term happiness, it by no mean hinders our quest for individual self-realization, with adverse situations and circumstances performing the role of a catalyst, not a hindrance.
Subjective Well Being (SWB) and Psychological Well Being (PWB) are two modern equivalents of the psychological research on Eudaimonia, for psychologists and behavioural scientists studying the definition, measurement, distinctiveness and relation with other happiness and wellbeing concepts.
It is defined in the modern context as: “quality of life derived from the development of a person’s best potentials and their application in the fulfillment of personally expressive, self-concordant goals." (Sheldon, 2002; Waterman, 1990; 2008)
EWB takes into account self-realization (knowing oneself), developing our self-knowledge and using these potentials to fulfil one’s life goals.
Hedonic pleasures like consumerism or gluttony are the more visible, accessible and immediate ways to attain an instant jolt of happiness, however temporary.
While eudaimonic well being is associated with authenticity, excellence, meaning, and virtuous living, hedonic well being is more about the absence of distress, comfort, enjoyment and pleasure.
Eudaimonic activities that can be practically pursued:
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.'