Another way to understand happiness is with the concept of eudaimonia, which combines eu (good) and daimon (spirit). Eudaimonia has been defined as a life well-lived, or human flourishing. A systematic review on eudaimonia found that most definitions include the following four elements (Huta & Waterman, 2014):
We’ve talked a lot about eudaimonia, but perhaps you still need more help to create it. Here are a few actionable steps that you can take to promote eudaimonia:
We all have different values. If something is truly important to you, try your best to stand by it, even when others don’t agree. This will also help you feel true to yourself (see #6).
I know this sounds like a daunting task, but hear me out. This isn’t your usual career goal or where you want to see yourself in 20 years. These are goals that reflect your core values. Sure, they can be related to your career, but think about it at a broader level. For example, some of my big goals are ‘to help people who are struggling’ and ‘to stand up for marginalized groups’.
No matter who you are, you are good at something (or many things). You have traits that can help you achieve your goals (re: #2). Maybe you’re good at giving advice, or you're detail-oriented, or you have an ear for music. Whatever it is, focus your efforts on developing the skills that bring you joy.
This might seem obvious, but social connections play a major role in well-being. Of course, you’ll form new relationships as you start different chapters of your life, but remember not to neglect the people you cherish and truly care about. This can be as simple as expressing gratitude or calling them now and then to check-in. Also, sometimes relationships are no longer serving us, which may mean it’s time for those to end.
As you read earlier, you might engage in something because it’s personally rewarding (i.e., intrinsic motivation) or externally rewarding (i.e., extrinsic motivation). Find things you love to do, and not only have to do. Yes, life is full of responsibilities and activities that are extrinsically motivated, but even a few side hobbies that bring you joy can be helpful in the long run.
Have you ever felt not quite like ‘yourself’ after saying or doing something? Me too. We all have those moments. It’s not a comfortable feeling because it feels like you’re lying to yourself. It’s no wonder that authenticity is such a big part of eudaimonia.
What are some things you can do in daily life to promote eudaimonia? A study by Steger and colleagues (2008) outlined the following eudaimonic activities:
- Volunteering one’s time
- Giving money to someone in need
- Writing out one’s future goals
- Expressing gratitude for another’s actions
- Carefully listening to another’s point of view
- Confiding in someone about something that is of personal importance
- Persevering at valued goals in spite of obstacles