Aristotle had more to say about happiness than any other philosopher before him. While he called it by a different name, eudaimonia, much of what he said is still relevant today.
See how a quick look at Aristotle’s thinking can help you lead a fuller and more enjoyable life.
What Aristotle Said About Happiness
1. Pursue ultimate ends. We do a lot of things just so we can position ourselves to get something else. Obtaining wealth may symbolize security or luxury for us. Aristotle argues that happiness is the highest good because we value it for itself.
2. Resist immediate gratification. Challenging activities are usually more rewarding than passive pleasures. It’s tempting to turn on the TV after a hard day at the office, but talking with friends or working on hobbies will probably make us feel better.
3. Carve out time to reflect. Aristotle says the ability to reason is what makes humans unique. Consider your core values and how to honor them.
4. Get moving. Put your thoughts into action. Aristotle provided a list of virtues that can guide us to attaining happiness.
The Table of Virtues
1. Face your fears. Have the courage to be true to yourself. Venturing beyond your comfort zone can bring great rewards.
2. Practice moderation. Temperance helps you to enjoy basic pleasures without going to extremes. Stop at one chocolate chip cookie.
3. Spend wisely. Liberality is expressed by using resources wisely. Put your time and your paycheck to good use. Prioritize your daily activities. Stick to your household budget.
4. Appreciate quality. You can still enjoy the good things in life. Magnificence is at work when you treat your friends to a dinner you can afford instead of being stingy or trying to impress people.
5. Believe in yourself. You may be used to thinking of magnanimity as generosity. Here it means knowing your worth.
6. Set goals. Pride can be a good thing when you tie it to your achievements and helping others. Direct your ambitions towards worthy causes.
7. Cultivate patience. A good temper allows us to wait our turn graciously. Perseverance plays a big part in any success.
8. Tell the truth. Level with yourself and others. You’ll gain a reputation for being trustworthy and avoid a lot of stress. Acknowledge when you make an error. Let your loved ones know how you really feel even when it seems awkward. It may lead to constructive discussions and closer relationships.
9. Have a laugh. There’s a light side to Aristotle. He knew that wittiness draws people closer together and provides relief during difficult times. Look for the humor in situations like a long afternoon at your local Department of Motor Vehicles or your puppy picking out your most expensive shoes to chew up.
10. Treasure your friends. Aristotle viewed a complete friendship as one of the greatest goods because it combines pleasure and virtue. Appreciate your loved ones and wish all good things for them.
11. Display modesty. Humility helps us to recognize our limits and get along with others. It’s easier to grow and learn new things when you understand that everyone can teach you something beneficial.
12. Rejoice in other’s good fortune. Aristotle cautions us about avoiding envy or spitefulness when others get the things we want for ourselves. Congratulate a coworker for their recent promotion and you may be more likely to advance soon yourself.
You can choose to live a happy life. Give Aristotle’s advice a try. Rely on your reasoning, love your friends, and practice virtue. Living up to your potential will bring you greater bliss.