Eudaimonia: Uncovering the secret to true happiness

Happiness is something we all want and is just as important to our health as our diets.  That’s why I found this subject just as blog worthy as a report on the latest scientific findings on nutrition.  Obviously, happiness is a universal human desire, no matter what age we are or where we come from- we all seek as much happiness as possible.  However as much as we all crave it, how to obtain the most happiness out of life is elusive to most people.  Many people assume happiness can be found in experiences, like enjoying a heaping cup of ice cream, watching a movie or getting a massage.  The assumption is that pleasure increases positive emotions and will provide us with the many smiles we seek. 

Smile. Flickr: kieran1388

However, as anyone who has attempted to overcome sadness with a pedicure or box of dark chocolates will tell you (cough, cough), feeling good doesn’t come from pleasurable, yet fleeting sensations.  They might make us feel good while we are experiencing them, but afterwards we are left feeling no happier than we did prior to the experience. Even if we sought a continuous, hedonic treadmill of one pleasurable experience after another, we are still not likely to attain lasting happiness in our hearts or our souls. 

Lucky for us, the path to true, authentic happiness, the type of happiness that really sticks with us day after day, can be found simply and actually makes so much sense when understood.  Psychologists in the emerging field of positive psychology, have been studying the concept of happiness for some time now and have adopted Aristotle’s term “Eudaimonia” or the Good Life, to mean a life in which you employ your strengths and efforts towards a goal or passion that you believe is larger than yourself.  Now this is a type of happiness worth talking about.  Eudaimonic motives include pursuing personal growth, development of your potential, achieving personal excellence and contributing to the lives of others. Psychologists have found in multiple studies that these types of Eudaimonic activities were the ones that lead to the most happiness, rewarding experiences and life satisfaction over time.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t need research to tell me that helping other people feels good.  Naturally, pleasurable, comforting and enjoyable activities have their place, yet they are no match for having a strong life purpose and using our abilities to enhance the lives of others. 

As a lover of shopping and a nutritarian-friendly gourmet meal, I don’t plan on giving up pleasurable activities any time soon, yet the next time I feel down in the dumps, I might just drive to my local animal shelter or use my cooking skills to prepare healthy meals for my friends instead of drowning myself in coconut milk, butter pecan ice cream (well, maybe I just might do both).  Seriously, I have noticed that moments of gloominess really do drop significantly the more we perform selfless acts and practice reaching our potential with meaningful activities.  I hope by writing this blog article I accomplish increasing my own Eudomonic happiness by pushing you to seek your own Eudomonic activities of choice. 

I wish you moments of great joy and authentic happiness each and every day!          

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Comments (6) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Zoe - April 5, 2012 10:56 AM

Thanks for posting this positive article.

Denise D'Agostino - April 5, 2012 11:05 AM

Thank you Talia. I needed that! So often it seems that others are only seeking pleasure and not any purpose. So it's nice to have reinforcement of a community that does strive for their full personal potential & excellence! It's all within us to feel this way & give to others :) so thanks!

Joyce Brooks - April 5, 2012 12:15 PM

In the economic disaster we have in this country right now and with huge numbers of unemployment you can see how people are losing hope, meaning in their lives, and experiencing depression. I believe that Eudomonic activities are even more important for survival and to be able to change an individuals' dire circumstances. Volunteering at a hospital, school, or church are some things that can be very rewarding and can sometimes lead to new oppurtunities. It can also look good on a resume that you are using unemployed time in a constructive way. Take any oppurtunity to join community groups that offer emotional support or free classes in hobbies or to improve skills. These activities have a way of improving your wellbeing. Just socilizing with other people is uplifting but participating in "random acts of kindness" is the most rewarding Edumonic activity of all. Joyce Brooks

Rebecca Cody - April 5, 2012 1:10 PM

I found a most important component of lasting happiness in a bottle of 5HTP. I no longer need it, but until I built up my serotonin level (and I have a theory there is a genetic component of not making enough easily, based on other depressed family members), that no matter what I did, totally illogical feelings of depression would engulf me frequently. This had nothing to do with a junky diet, which I've never eaten. It was simply body chemistry.

But it is true that helping others feels really good.

Mary Unger - April 5, 2012 7:55 PM

Very well said, and worth saying, Talia!

Anita Swift - April 14, 2012 4:17 PM

Great post - thank you Talia.

Additionally, I find that when I am positively engaged in something worthwhile I don't even think about food until I am truly hungry.

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