Happiness According to Aristotle

Simple Definitions of Happiness According to Aristotle

What does it mean to be truly happy? Aristotle, a great thinker from ancient Greece, offers us an excellent recipe for real happiness. He introduces us to ‘eudaimonia,’ which isn’t the typical happy feeling you get from eating your favorite ice cream or watching a funny movie. Instead, eudaimonia is something deeper. It’s like playing a challenging video game, where every level you beat makes you a better player, and the real prize is becoming the hero of your own adventure.

Think of eudaimonia as the ultimate goal in life – flourishing like a sturdy tree boasting a full spread of leaves. For Aristotle, being your best self involves growing your virtues – qualities like being honest, fair, and disciplined – and using your brainpower to make life awesome. When you act with good intentions and work on improving yourself, it’s as if you’re a tree spreading your branches toward the sun, reaching your full potential and basking in the glow of true happiness.

How to Guide

Searching for this deeper happiness seems like an exciting quest, right? Aristotle left us a guidebook to finding eudaimonia:

  • Practice virtues like courage, justice, and temperance. You become courageous by facing fears, fair by treating people equally, and moderate by not indulging in too much of anything.
  • Engage in challenging activities that stretch what you can do. Keep improving and take pride in personal achievements.
  • Build strong friendships and help your community. Do your part to make the world a kinder place.
  • Always keep learning and exploring. Use your curiosity to understand the world better.
  • Look for a balance in life. Don’t go over the top with anything; keep it “just right” to stay healthy and happy.

Aristotle believed that by following these guidelines, you would not just have fun, but also create a meaningful life filled with eudaimonia.

Types of Happiness According to Aristotle

Even though Aristotle saw eudaimonia as the ultimate form of happiness, he recognized that people find happiness in different ways:

  • The Life of Pleasure: Enjoying things that feel good, like tasty meals and comfortable places to rest.
  • The Life of Honor: Wanting to be recognized and remembered, to feel valued and respected by others.
  • The Life of Mind: Loving to learn, think deeply, and ponder over life’s big questions.

Out of these, Aristotle cherished the Life of Mind, believing that true happiness comes from within and through the use of reason and intellect.

Examples of Happiness According to Aristotle

  • Someone who shares with people in need, not for a thank you, but out of goodness. This shows a noble character, and it spreads joy to others, which is a key part of Aristotle’s happiness.
  • An athlete who practices tirelessly, finding satisfaction in mastering their skills, not just in victory. They cherish personal growth, embodying Aristotle’s concept of flourishing through discipline and effort.
  • A teacher who dedicates their life to educating others, feeling rewarded by the progress of their students. Their joy comes from the impact they have on others, aligning with Aristotle’s vision of contributing to the greater good.

Why is Happiness According to Aristotle Important?

Aim for eudaimonia, and you’re really aiming for the highest level of human flourishing, according to Aristotle. It’s not just about feeling happy; it’s about creating a cycle of goodness that radiates from you to others. Living virtuously elevates not just ourselves but the people and world around us. How we choose to live our lives impacts everything – that is why Aristotle’s happiness matters.

By striving to be the best we can be, we set off a chain reaction of positivity. This ancient concept is as alive today as it was back then because it gets us to consider our potential impact on society. For the average person, this approach to happiness can lead to a fulfilling and meaningful life, influencing our day-to-day choices and interactions. It’s a guiding light in a world where happiness is often mistaken for fleeting pleasures.

Origin of Aristotle’s Thoughts on Happiness

Aristotle, who lived around 2,300 years ago, shared his wisdom on happiness in his work, the “Nicomachean Ethics.” He stepped out from the shadow of his teacher, Plato, to focus on the practical ways we can live well. He cared about real-life experiences and how we can nurture the best qualities within ourselves.

Controversies Around Happiness According to Aristotle

While Aristotle’s teachings on happiness are influential, they’re not without debate. Some argue that ‘happiness’ as a word doesn’t fully capture the depth of eudaimonia. Also, critics claim that achieving Aristotle’s ideal could be really tough for people facing hardships. Plus, is eudaimonia possible for everyone, or is it an exclusive state that only a few can attain? These questions spark discussions on how to adapt Aristotle’s insights to our modern lives.

Other Important Points

Aristotle’s take on happiness isn’t a short-lived joyride; it’s a long-term journey towards a life well-lived, marked by actions that enrich our character. Also, according to Aristotle, true happiness means recognizing the value of community – human connection is vital in our quest for eudaimonia.

Lastly, he preached balance in all things: too much courage could make you reckless, too little might make you a coward. Finding the middle ground, or the Golden Mean, is key to his vision of happiness.

Related Topics with Explanations

  • Virtue Ethics: A philosophy focused on moral character over following set rules or aiming for rewards. It’s about doing the right thing because it’s part of who you are – the real-life equivalent of a storybook hero’s quest for goodness.
  • The Golden Mean: Aristotle’s idea for striking perfect balance – not too much, not too little, but just enough. It’s the art of moderation, like enjoying a slice of pie without overindulging and feeling sick.
  • Platonic Idealism: Plato’s theory that there exists a world of perfect forms, which we can’t see or touch. He believed we should strive to emulate these ideals in our own imperfect world, similar to how a star may inspire us to shine bright.


Aristotle gave us a timeless blueprint for happiness that goes beyond momentary thrills, guiding us towards a profound and lasting sense of fulfillment. By nurturing our virtues and balancing our actions, we cultivate a life of eudaimonia, or true flourishing. Whether through kind deeds, determined effort, or the pursuit of knowledge, we’re on a quest to grow into the very best versions of ourselves.

The quest for eudaimonia is about making every aspect of our lives – from personal pursuits to community involvement – contribute to a rich, flourishing existence. Aristotle’s wisdom holds that by committing to this journey, we unlock a deeper, more enduring happiness. So take up Aristotle’s challenge: grow like the mightiest of trees, strike the perfect balance, and let your life’s path lead you to eudaimonia. This pursuit of happiness is a continuum from the past and a beacon for our future, inviting each of us to be a champion in the game of life.