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This Concept from Aristotle May Be the Elusive Key to Your Happiness



When I was a confused 17-year-old trying to decide what to do with my life, I was repeatedly given the advice, “Do what makes you happy!”…CONTINUE READING

So, I did.

Or at least I did what I thought would make me happy.

In my teenage mind, this equated to doing things that felt fun. I partied up a storm, dated up an even bigger storm, and gallivanted all over the world on rock climbing adventures.


Did I have fun? Yes. Undoubtedly. Contentment? Sure. Bliss? Oh, yes! But happiness?

Not so much.

At least not in the way that I thought happiness should feel.

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I had imagined that happiness would be an enduring baseline where I not only felt pleasure and contentment but also a sense that I was thriving. But the joy and bliss I experienced were fleeting, always requiring more stimulation or novelty to be sustained.

I would frequently experience a sense of comfort in my good life while simultaneously feeling stuck in a rut and a deep sense of emptiness.

I realized later that the biggest problem was that I had confused pleasure and contentment with happiness.


But pleasure and contentment are incomplete definitions of happiness.

Perhaps I should take some solace in the fact that I am certainly not the first person to conflate these words.
The Philosophical Definitions of Happiness

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In the 4th century B.C., the Greek Philosopher Aristippus taught that happiness was obtained by maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. He introduced the concept of hedonia (happiness from pleasure), which derives its name from the Greek word for pleasure (hēdonē).


Also, in the 4th century B.C., renowned Greek Philosopher Aristotle took a different view of what contributes to happiness. He posited that happiness was achieved when people lived virtuously and in…

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