Ancient Wisdom: Why Not?
Eudaimonia, for most ancient Greek philosophers, was the highest level of excellence or virtue that a human being could achieve in his/her lifetime. It’s the ultimate endgame. Eudaimonia is what ancient wisdom referred to as “the good life.”
If happiness is the cake, then eudaimonia is the eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, and sugar. It’s the stuff that happiness is made of.
The Highest Human Level
Stoic philosophers believed that the very thing that makes human beings different from animals is the same thing that prepares them for excellence. And that is the mind, with its infinite capacity to use reason to rise to the highest conceived human level of excellence. The Stoics held up the concept of reason as the ultimate gift to humans.
They believed that from birth, every human being has the seed of reason on the inside. The seed’s natural-born purpose is to reach the highest version of itself.
The Stoics believed that the good life was achieved when a thing reached its essential purpose (its endgame). When an apple tree produces apples, it’s achieving the good life simply by fulfilling its natural calling. Nothing outside the apple tree could change what it was put here to do. There might be factors that can influence its growth rate, but its potential to produce apples is its gift, and nothing can change that. It is what it is.
The mind, with its ability to rise through reason, is the locus of humans’ inherent potential; therefore, “I am that I am.”
Imagine this by closing your eyes. Think of God, the universe, the moon, the sun, the stars, or any higher power of your choice. Create an image of the highest possible level of spiritual greatness you can visualize. What you have just envisioned is your highest self. This is not the material world: this is the biological world. And it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor. To qualify, you simply need to be human.
What Are Some Other Ingredients for Happiness?
Reason is not enough by itself, because it can work for us or against us. If reason is our ability to think, one must first fully grasp the concept of freedom in choosing what to think. Unfortunately, not all choices point in the direction of “the good life.” Therefore, choice—and more specifically, conscious choice—is another essential ingredient of happiness.
Authenticity was defined by some ancient philosophers as being the Author of one’s own life.
Reason is the gift that lives inside you, and choice is your ability to choose what you think. This brings up the concept of responsibility. Am I responsible for how and what I choose to think? If that is the case, then what part do other people play in blocking my happiness? None.
Another vital ingredient is releasing that which you cannot control and focusing time and attention on what you can. Your happiness or unhappiness is the only thing you will ever have direct and complete control over in your life. If this truth is not understood completely, you could fall victim to the outside world holding the remote control to your wellbeing.
The Stoics believed eudaimonia sat at the heart of the matter and represented the seed of excellence or virtue. It can be achieved by paying attention to your actions and behaviors every moment and measuring them against the highest version of yourself. This daily practice allows you to narrow the gap between your higher self and your lower self, literally becoming better with each day.
Eudaimonia is a daily process, and it’s found when we come as close to humanly possible to the highest virtuous state of our human potential. And it does not take one single thing outside of yourself to achieve “the good life.” External achievements are simply by-products that complement the quality nature of the internal ingredients that make up who and what you are.
This goes beyond money and fame. This is what I call “internal wealth and authentic power.”
You have probably discovered by now that money, status, and material things are not creating consistent and sustainable happiness. It turns out that ancient wisdom has been trying to deliver that message from the very beginning.
What Are the Other Ingredients for Happiness?
Your Mentor Life Coach,
Kamili Anderson, BSN, RN
Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Salzgeber, J. (2019). The little book of Stoicism: Timeless wisdom to gain resilience, confidence, and calmness. Middletown, DE. www.njlifehacks.com
What Is Reason?
Humans’ ability to effectively use reason holds almost all, or at least most, of the main ingredients of happiness.
But not all reason is created equal or holds the keys to ultimate happiness or eudaimonia.
The mind must follow a specific pathway to “the good life.”
Reason is your ability to think. It requires paying attention to your life. We must actively, intentionally, logically, and consciously use our brains to come as close as possible to a combination of subjective and objective understanding of what’s happening in and around us every day.
We can use the gift of reason in such a way that our lives can run efficiently, smoothly, and effortlessly. It’s a real thing!