Eudaimoni-what?

What You Need to Know About Eudaimonia

The pursuit of happiness is a human obsession. It is written into our Declaration of Independence as an “unalienable right.” Even the Dalai Lama posted on his Facebook page that the “very purpose of our life is happiness”:

dalai lama

 

Yet we tend to go about obtaining happiness in the wrong way. We look for it outside ourselves, in vacations and junk food, in parties and Netflix binges. Too often, we mistake material and fleeting happiness as the only way to get the positive boost we’re seeking. These quick fixes work well as distractions but may actually detract from our overall level of joy. Why?

Let’s take a quick look into ancient philosophy. Socrates and his students, like Plato and Arristippus, debated the ethics of happiness. Arristippus put forward “hedonism,” a method that concentrates on pleasure and self-indulgence. It’s an extremely tempting option, but it often excuses selfish behavior. Hedonism is like living a life by consuming only empty calories and hoping to stay healthy.

Aristotle, on the other hand, encouraged a more moderate method. “Eudaimonia” is like eating a well-balanced meal that also tastes great. Translating into something close to “well-being” or “human flourishing,” eudaimonia encourages finding joy in contentment and accomplishment. While happiness is subjective and will vary from person to person, the act of pursuing your happiness in your everyday activities will put you on the right path.

Here are a few ways to incorporate eudaimonia into your life:

  1. Get stuff done. Flourishing has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with effort. You don’t need to cross an entire project off your to-do list to feel accomplished. Break your goals into subgoals and tackle away. Each time you’ve completed a milestone, allow yourself to feel success. Use that glow to propel yourself forward to the next step, or the next goal. You’ve got this.
  2. Believe in yourself. It’s okay to tackle the hard things, even if you don’t believe you have the skills required. You can learn, or you can ask for help along the way. The point is, in the end, you are capable of putting in your best effort. In eudaimonia, the journey is more important than the goal. You don’t need to wait for the result to feel good. Despite Yoda’s sage advice, there is “try,” and “trying” is a great start.
  3. Explore your purpose. Remember how happiness varies? That’s because we are all individuals with different interests, gifts, and aversions. Fortunately, there is a place for your unique talents in this world.  By following your heart and accepting who you are, you will be that much closer to creating a life that suits you. Here’s another secret: accepting yourself is crucial to happiness. Take an honest assessment of who you are- your values, your talents, your challenges, and resolve to be your best self. Recognize when you aren’t.
  4. Give yourself a break.  You can’t be perfect all the time. In fact, you probably can’t be perfect at all and that’s okay. Flourishing doesn’t mean working yourself into a state of exhaustion. It means taking care of yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally. It means meeting your deadlines and relaxing with your friends. It means setting yourself up for success and keeping your options open.

The world is a very different place now than it was when Socrates engaged in long debate with his students. Not everything about their ideas will transfer neatly into modern society. However, the idea that happiness is not only attainable, but within your grasp, within your control, is timeless.

Reach out.

On Mindfulness and Changing the World

lesly-juarez-307974-unsplash
Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

I wrote a post I like, On Mindfulness and Changing the World, on one of my three Tumblr pages.  Here’s an excerpt:

My daughter is 22 months old and changing everyday. Everybody says that the time moves so quickly, blink and she’ll be eighteen and out. My husband even said that just last night, something along the lines of, “We have 16 years with her and then she’s just, poof, gone,” and I reminded him that 16 years is actually a very long time. And when I’m mindful, time stretches. It’s easy to be happy. I’m catching everything, and when I am present, my daughter shines with the attention. Until yesterday, I would beat myself up for all those times I miss, when I am in my own head and far away, when I am inattentive.

Tan changed that for me. Mindfulness is like a muscle, he says, and the more you flex it, the stronger it gets. Each time you recognize you have drifted into daydreams, ruminations, or worries and have left your body behind on autopilot, you can just come back and start over, no big deal. In fact, good job for noticing. It will only get easier from here.

So far, Tan has used this compassionate approach in his description of awareness in meditation, but I’m extrapolating from the tone of the book and what I’ve seen from the table of contents, and slapping on my own ideas of radical-self-forgiveness. I’m only on page 65. But I think that’s the point: I am only on page 65 and I can already tell my worldview has shifted for the better. I have read a third of the book and I am changed.

The book I’m referring to is Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan. Here’s a sample, and I will leave you with the same disclaimer I made in the original post:

I’m not getting paid to endorse it, or to provide opinions, or profit in any way. It’s simply that good so farBut fair warning: don’t let all humble-bragging get in the way of its message.

 

Blog Post: Date Night for a Cause (DateNight.ly)

Elsewhere on the Internet:

I wrote a blog post for DateNight.ly, a website dedicated to helping married couples find the inspiration to take time for themselves. I wrote about attending a charity event:

(I have to say, in advance, though no one else in the world cares but me: The ellipses aren’t mine. They were added by the editors. To each, their own.)


Date Night for A Cause

A typical date night doesn’t have to contain food, drinks, and stilted dialogue as you two try to remember how to be romantic and connected.

Imagine, instead, that you’re holding a specialty cocktail, something containing Elderflower liqueur or jalapeno-infused tequila… Your partner holds a frothing ice cold craft beer… The two of you chat with fascinating people who care about the issues that you do.

You’re relaxed, shining. You’re bantering, flirting with your partner. You catch each other’s eyes in silent communion, reconnecting effortlessly. Surrounded by your people, yet it’s still the two of you.

You are the team you’ve always wanted to be.

For a date night like this, you’re looking for a charity night to support a good cause.

continue at https://datenight.ly/cause/