What was Aristotle’s Rx for Happiness? Eudaimonia.

Ayla Nereo of Wildlight feeling it. Photo by Zipporah Lomax

If you’ve never heard of Eudaimonia, you’re not alone. The word may trigger thoughts in your head like “Is this like pandamonium, but more peaceful?” or “How do I pronounce that?!” So, why did Lucidity decide to use Eudaimonia as the cornerstone for Chapter Six of our festival journey? Let’s take a minute to unpack the concept before we pack our bags and head to Live Oak.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle described eudaimonia as ultimate happiness derived from two things: excelling at your role in society, and living a moral and virtuous life. Pretty easy, right? Just find the perfect job, and be a good person.

Okay, maybe it’s not so easy. How do I get that job I really want? And what does “good” even mean?

Let’s go one deeper.

In a post-apocalyptic world like the AMC show The Walking Dead where basic human needs are amplified and community is critical, the characters quickly realize that everyone has a job to do – and their survival is dependant on it. Our ideal society consists of people who have all discovered their perfect role. Most of us find incredible fulfillment in being able to provide a skill to our community. Having a purpose and feeling like we’re needed is part of how we understand our reason for living.

Eudaimonia is Excelling at Your Role in Society

Finding your role in a garden or a community
Photo by Lerina Winter, Winter Creative Co.

Finding our place in the world is so important. In fact, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho wrote an entire novel about a young man in search of what he calls “a personal legend.” In The Alchemist, Paulo describes a personal legend as something that every human seeks to find at some point in their life. It’s a purpose. It’s a way of measuring success and achievement in your life.

(If you’ve never read The Alchemist or listened to it on Audible, I highly recommend it.)

Many people are still searching for their personal legend. Especially in today’s culture where jobs are changing with the advancement of technology.

Alternatively, some may not even know to look for it.

They may be waiting for someone to walk up to them and deliver it along with a letter that explains the meaning of life. It’s important to recognize that we’re all at different places in our journeys.

Just because someone hasn’t discovered their personal legend doesn’t mean they aren’t well on their way to finding eudaimonia.

Eudaimonia is Living a Moral and Virtuous Life

Place your intentions here
Photo by Violet Visions

Then, the second half of eudaimonia comes from living a moral and virtuous life. This can be achieved through the skills you practice every day like empathy and communication. Each one of us has an entire world of perspective in our mind. Morality comes from recognizing that other people have just as much perspective. And it’s just as real. And it’s just as valid.

What does it mean to be a person with high morals? To Aristotle, it means you do the right thing, even when it’s inconvenient.

Picture this: There’s a flower stand on the side of a road with no attendant. The flowers in the buckets are vibrant and beautiful. There’s a sign on the stand saying “$5 a bunch”. You could easily walk up, take a bunch, and leave no money. If you’re a person who lives a life based on morals, you leave $5 because you recognize that someone put energy into preparing those flowers, and you empathize with their need for money in exchange for their service to the community.

Communication as a Happiness Tool

Communication is another important tool for finding happiness because it’s the glue that allows us to check in with each other and understand what happiness looks like from other perspectives. Without communication, we’re all walking around making assumptions about each other’s feelings and needs, and you know what assumptions can lead to…

Recognizing that eudaimonia comes from two pieces is important because someone could have the perfect job but maybe they threw someone under the bus to get there. Or they could be unemployed but they always practice reason and logical decision making because of their deeply rooted desire to do what’s right.

Regardless of where you’re at on your journey toward eudaimonia, you could probably use some tools to help get you there. Some people use positive affirmations to help them achieve their personal legend and find their purpose. Keep an eye out for a future blog post that will guide you through discovering and/or writing your own affirmation. Until then, look to your community and see how you can put positive energy into it. You might be surprised how many opportunities and life lessons come back to you.


See what people said about eudaimonia during the 5th chapter of the Lucidity Festival story.

Lindsay Dilworth

I grew up in the lush forests of Portland, Oregon where I fell in love with mother earth. Then I adventured to San Luis Obispo and discovered Lightning in a Bottle and Lucidity. Now I see life as an infinite playlist that constantly evolves with my pursuit of happiness. Let’s dance.

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