Finding Aristotle’s Eudaimonia
Why eudaimonia is not for everybody
Finding Aristotle’s Eudaimonia
“The eudaimōn is someone who makes a success of his life and actions, who realizes his aims and ambitions as a man, who fulfills himself.” — Jonathon Barnes
When I wake up, I write for the first hour or two of the morning. Today, I got oddly morbid (like d*mn, 42 is old Mr. Mullet), wondering what people will remember about me when I’m dead and gone.
What will people admire about me?
Will they say I lived a fulfilled life?
A virtuous life?
Will they pontificate on how I rejected the notion of American society’s rat race and corporate patriarchy?
I guess I’m left with the reality my life may very well be half over, and then, what the hell have I done to make the world a better, happier place? Who have I loved and understood? Who have I inspired? What destiny have I lived out and worked towards?
I think everyone deserves a life of self-actualization.
I love to lean into weird sh*t, write about destiny, habits, self-improvement, travel, and if the journey to pro sports taught me anything, it’s that our system and plan must rise to the level of our goals and aspirations.*
To do what our soul asks of us is no small feat. It’s the g*ddamn most admirable journey a man (and woman) can take in my humble 42–year old opinion.
Unfortunately, this is also why eudaimonia isn’t for everybody.
What Is Aristotle's Eudaimonia and How Do We Get It?
“But what is happiness? If we consider what the function of man is, we find that happiness is a virtuous activity of the soul.” — Aristotle
Socrates taught Plato. Plato taught Aristotle. Aristotle was born in Macedonia in 384 BC. At seventeen, he went to Athens, where he studied with Plato at his Academy for twenty years. Shortly after that, he was summoned back to Macedonia to tutor the thirteen-year-old Alexander the Great.* And better, their philosophies and writings can still influence modern man.
Eudaimonia is about seeking a life of well-being and happiness.
I think modern men live lives of quiet desperation. They commute to work. They sit in a cubicle. They hate their jobs. They get on dumb Zoom calls. Meetings with their managers. Then they commute back home — Numb. Emotionless. Angry. Bitter.
Only to do it all over the next day. And men do it because they see others do it: increase that 401k, build that nest egg, stay tough, and keep your head down, bro.
I believe men are suffering.
Denying ourselves for the sake of others isn’t the path to eudaimonia.
Maybe you deny yourself meaningful progress towards your destiny.
This is a considerable challenge in eudaimonia. It’s one of the hardest things humans can do; to leave something behind and start towards the vision they know is true for themselves.
How did we get stuck in the first place?
Maybe you let go of that hobby or that dream when you were 21. Perhaps the art, or music, or poetry seemed silly. Juvenile. Possibly your responsibilities piled up, and you quit what you cared about doing.
Maybe you were curious about photography, design, or furniture making but didn’t have time. Perhaps you had to work for others to make ends meet.
Regardless, if you want to find eudaimonia, you’ll have to start changing.
Eudaimonia doesn’t care about your human flaws or past regrets, it cares about where you put your focus next.
Eudaimonia (which means ‘good for your soul’) lives inside the belly of the eudaimōn. The eudaimōn prioritizes that sacred place of meaning, positive emotions, great relationships, engaging in progress no matter how small, and achieving the summit of their mountain.
Destiny seekers live by their intuition, their reason, their heart, and say f*ck off to the distractions and haters and show up to put in the work. Happiness isn’t given, it’s earned, and rent is due every day.
Eudaimonia asks you to live virtuously in honor of your most authentic, courageous f*ck-the-world-self.
There is always a choice “…to be or not to be,” (thanks Will)— to go this way or that way, to give up, or show up, even if it’s for five minutes or 10 hours on a Saturday.
No choice is wrong or right, no failure too big, no recovery unreachable, but the eudaimōn knows happiness shines on them because they’re doing what their soul asks of them.
If you want to leave your job, or your quiet, desperate life, start with examining yourself. Your thoughts. Your focus. Your time management. Your effort levels. Your habits.
Eventually, your side-hustle, destiny, purpose, and soul will shine to the world. Better, you'll smile more as you quit living a life of desperation, fear, suffering, and start walking down the path of eudaimonia.
Breathe, open your sails, tilt the rudder of your ship, and enjoy this terrifying, exhilarating, confusing life that will be yours to navigate.
Good luck out there,
*Brian Johnson’s PN on Introduction to The Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle
*James Clear’s remixed quote from Atomic Habits