We live on a quest even if we don’t think about it. It can be small things like achieving a goal for the day or longer purposes like life plans. For some, reflections on the meaning of life are more constant and profound; for others, it is implicit in everyday life and living, one day after another. However, with a few exceptions (such as people with disorders, for example), everyone seeks good and happiness for themselves.
Nevertheless, happiness itself is a comprehensive construct. And if there is no consensus on its conceptualization, it is even more challenging to define how to achieve it. There are no magic formulas or “cake recipes.” Some people never get there, and some get there and don’t know how to explain it. In my opinion, even worse is living looking for happiness in some things only to discover after a few years that it was all in vain. So, what can we do to guide us in this quest?
Based on these reflections, I would like to share an excerpt from a book:
“[…], considering that all knowledge and all search aim at some good, […]. There is a verbal agreement between almost everyone: both the common people and the educated men affirm that this good is happiness, and they identify living well and doing well with being happy. But they differ about the definition of happiness; the common people do not give it the same meaning that the sages give it. The former think that happiness is something simple and obvious, like pleasure, wealth, or honor; however, they differ from one another, and often the same man identifies it with different things: with health when he is sick, with wealth when he is poor. Yet, conscious of their ignorance, they admire those who proclaim some great ideal beyond their comprehension. One may think that, in addition to these many goods, there is another, self-subsistent and the cause of the goodness of others. To examine all the opinions that have been given on this subject is perhaps somewhat fruitless; just consider those that are the best known or those that seem most acceptable.” (freely translated by the author)
This passage could easily pass as part of contemporary work, but it was written more than 300 years before Christ. The excerpt is in the first part of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, but it couldn’t be more current! Among other topics, Aristotle talks about Eudaimonia, sometimes translated as happiness, but it means much more than that. I don’t intend to delve into his work today, but if you want to know a little more, you can check out this post here!
And if you still want to go deeper, here’s a reading tip. The aim is not to indicate the book as a formula for happiness. Far from it! However, all too often, we need a shift in perspective. Who knows, leaving modernity a little and resorting to the classics can be a way to give new insights into life. Or maybe you’ll find that studying ethics will make you happier and join AdmEthics! At the very least, you will have valuable lessons on this and other subjects.
Aristóteles. Ética a Nicômaco (Clássicos da literatura mundial) (p. 9). Principis. Edição do Kindle.
The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the AdmEthics Group