Eudaimonia and Hedonism Are About Happiness

22 February, 2021
Today's article will describe eudaimonia and hedonism, two concepts that are all about happiness.

Eudaimonia and hedonism are about happiness. But what exactly is happiness? Everyone talks about it, and it isn’t easy to define, even though most people know and experience it. Many thinkers have tried to delve into the mysteries of this emotion, like Aristotle. He thought happiness was the ultimate goal of man. Similarly, Epicurus believed it was the foundation of life. Today’s article will review what psychology says about the connection with the aforementioned concepts and happiness.

People in the field of psychology, through the review of philosophical literature and scientific experimentation, observed that people experience happiness in different ways. It’s easy to think that you can find it at a party or during a vacation. However, many people also find happiness in their efforts, in studying a certain career, in learning a language, and so on. This is where the concepts of eudaimonia and hedonism become relevant.

It’s necessary to explain some details before moving on to these two psychological terms. The terms eudaimonia and hedonism come from philosophy. Aristotle and Epicurus were already explaining happiness back in the day. Furthermore, even though these terms were appropriated by psychology, their interpretation is quite different. Thus, keep in mind that the definition used below comes from a psychological rather than philosophical perspective.

“I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it.”

-Rita Mae Brown-

A woman in a field.

Hedonism, pleasure-based happiness

This is tangible happiness. It’s the joy you experience when you engage in rewarding activities. Moreover, it’s the sensation of pleasure and the motivation to avoid discomfort. One could say the following characteristics are the basis of this type of happiness:

  • Pleasure seeking is the main characteristic of hedonism. It consists of the search for the stimulation of senses and emotions. Enjoying with friends, taking a trip, going to a concert, etc.
  • A perception based on an emotional balance. The way you interpret hedonism in your life is through a balance of your daily emotions. Thus, if you tend to experience more pleasant emotions than unpleasant ones, you’ll feel a higher degree of hedonistic happiness.
  • Maintenance of life satisfaction. You must feel that your environment is pleasant in order to enjoy hedonism. This is because any problems in our family, friends, work, etc., will cause anxiety and it’ll affect your hedonistic happiness.
  • The pursuit of desires and needs. Hedonism is the pleasure that the achievement of your desires and needs brings. Fulfilling them and satisfying needs will bring you those pleasant emotions that lead to hedonic happiness.
  • Short-term happiness. An essential characteristic of hedonism is its focus on the present or the immediate future. This is about the spontaneous pleasure or happiness that arises after the performance of certain behaviors. As the eliciting stimulus recedes, hedonic happiness dissipates.
  • High intensity. Hedonic happiness is a highly rewarding and stimulating emotion and people experience it with great intensity and enthusiasm.
A happy woman.

Eudaimonia, happiness based on personal development

Many behaviors don’t bring immediate happiness and even involve effort. There are certain times when you experience some emotions of negative valence, characteristic of this type of motivation. However, you continue to perform them with zeal in spite of that and are even satisfied with them. This is because these types of behaviors are about personal development, which people experience as eudaimonic happiness. Examples of eudaimonia can be pursuing a career, learning a language, experiencing other cultures, exploring oneself, etc.

Here are some of the characteristics of eudaimonia that can help define it:

  • The pursuit of personal development. This is the key to this type of happiness. Eudaimonia is the motivation that drives you to develop as a person. It’s the satisfaction that comes from being proud of your cognitive, moral, and emotional growth.
  • Achievement of goals and purposes. The degree of intensity of eudaimonic happiness will depend on whether you achieve your goals and purposes. Achieving these will bring you the kind of happiness that urges you to continue to grow.
  • Effort and motivation. These are engines of your self-realization. This is because your goals and purposes will lead to problems and unpleasant emotions on many occasions. Thus, you need effort and motivation to attain eudaimonia.
  • Long-term happiness. This is a kind of happiness represented by satisfaction with yourself. The capacity for introspection and, thus, being proud of who you are. It implies more a pleasant self-perception than a specific temporary state (as in the case of hedonism).
Eudaimonia and hedonism are about happiness.

Conclusions about eudaimonia and hedonism

So should you try to attain hedonistic happiness or eudaimonic happiness? Well, both are usually a motivation in people’s lives. Thus, responsible for encouraging pleasant behaviors and personal development, respectively. In this respect, it seems essential to find a personal balance between the two. Mainly so that one doesn’t become an obstacle to the other.

Today, largely due to the consumer society in which we live in, people base their lives on the pursuit of hedonism. Many spend their resources inordinately on short-term pleasures and either forget about their personal development or seek it indirectly through instant gratification. In fact, a large part of the population hates their job and professional life and the only satisfaction they can find is through hedonic pursuits. This is why it’s important not to forget or neglect the fulfillment of your dreams and goals, as it’s the only way to attain eudaimonia.