Hedonia or Eudaimonia

This article from The Atlantic fascinated me for a few reasons. First, I enjoy learning about different philosophies, and second it made me reflect on my own beliefs and structure. If philosophy interest you, I recommend you read the article now.

As usual, the article ultimately recommends a balance, specifically between hedonia and eudaimonia in the pursuit of happiness, and I agree that balance is key. One of my personal philosophies is that absolutes are easy, moderation is hard. Case in point, I prefer to not have snacks around my house as then I am not tempted because once tempted, moderation can prove hard.

I believe that my parents raised me to embrace the teachings of the stoics, or eudaimonia. I still see that today as they are both people in perpetual motion. I.e., their default nature is to be doing, and it is almost as if they must schedule times for pleasure and relaxation. And for much of my life, I leaned hard in that direction.

Upon reflecting on my choice to take a sabbatical, I believe a motive was to find balance for myself. I knew that a purely stoic approach was not satisfying. But going into the sabbatical, I gave myself plenty of tasks and goals to ensure I did not land in hedonia.

My personal philosophy now is that one needs to narrow their focus. Pick just a few, or even one, goal to approach with stoicism. With the right goal, the trials along the road will bring happiness as a reward.

However, if a particular task or goal does not fit your focus, then I believe an Epicurean approach is more appropriate: decide against engaging in it and free your mind from any thoughts or concerns regarding it.

This is where I find my balance in the pursuit of happiness.

3 thoughts on “Hedonia or Eudaimonia

  1. A really fascinating article, and I appreciated your thoughts regarding it too. It’s easy to argue for the benefits of balance, but it’s interesting (to me at least) the pro-active stance that is stressed, and the necessity of seeking to redress the balance by bolstering one side, where most might argue for mitigating existing leanings. Thanks for sharing!


    1. You’re welcome!
      It is interesting. Some modern teachings argue that you are better served to play to your strengths than try to make meaningful changes to your weaknesses. So one approach could be to pick a few regular wins for the “happiness portfolio” from the side that is less natural to yourself. And then the bulk of your wins are from your natural philosophy.
      It is intriguing to contemplate.

      Liked by 1 person

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