MD on two types of happiness (and which one is healthier)

April 18, 2023 0 Comments

Even from the point of view of ancient philosophy, the definitions of eudaimonia differ. According to Aristotle, virtue and the application of virtue are central to eudaemonia, but attention is also paid to external goods such as health, beauty, and wealth. By contrast (and by comparison), the Stoics did not consider external goods necessary; for them virtue was sufficient and necessary.

Aristotle believed that people achieve eudaimonia when they develop their highest human functions—rational thinking and reason—and supplement them with rational action. This is my super condensed interpretation of the Aristotelian meaning of eudaemonia. If you are interested in delving into the ancient origins of happiness and well-being, Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics and Eudemian ethics is a good place to start.

In my opinion and for me personally, eudaemonia would be something like: I could have all the medical knowledge (mind), medical skills and empathy for patients in the world, but if I don’t use these qualities in action (work) helping people, then I could not achieve true happiness.

In other words, when I am fully engaged in intellectually stimulating and fulfilling work for the benefit of others, then I have found my purpose, my happiness, and my success as a human being.

Eudaemonia, sometimes called eudaemonic happiness, has a yin/yang or “evil twin” counterpart, depending on how you look at it, called hedonia or hedonic happiness. Hedonia is the feeling of happiness caused by instant gratification or satisfaction and immediate self-gratification.

In my case, for example, hedonia could be recognition from a colleague, a raise, or a new car (bought because of the raise), all of which bring a sense of short-term happiness. Undoubtedly, life brings a combination of hedonic and eudaemonic happiness, but what helps us achieve our purpose in life is the lasting happiness that results from long-term goals and actions.

Thus, the ideal human pursuit of well-being is achieved when we strive for meaning and noble purpose and go beyond self-indulgence.

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