I loved learning about the differences between 'eudaimonia' and 'hedonia' when I first started uni in 2017. 'Eudaimonic' can be translated from its latin roots meaning 'good demon' or 'good spirit' and means living a good and virtuous life. Not so much in the sense of constantly being on your best behaviour or going to church every Sunday but more living a flourishing life where you support others to flourish too.
The hedonistic life is probably something that many of us will be familiar with...I know I am. Those thoughts of 'I'll feel happy when I lose a few pounds', or 'I'll be happy when I get that promotion, new jobs...' you know the script.
It really stayed with me when Sir Anthony Seldon explained the difference between 'joy' and 'pleasure'. Pleasure can be instantly gratifying like a chocolate magnum after dinner or driving your new car for the first couple of weeks. But whilst you may be grateful for these things, time passes and you sometimes begin to look for the next thing that will bring the same initial feeling of perceived 'happiness'. Joy is of a completely different nature. That gorgeous feeling that you register as true happiness, the kind that young children bring when they say something funny or when you spend time with your best friend. Cultivating more joy in our lives and learning how to savour it is the pathway to a Eudaimonic life worth living and experiencing every joyful moment.
However, like things worth having it is not always an easy journey. As I currently type, I have my most favourite tv show playing in the background. It is called Outlander and involves time travel, Scotland and a handsome warrior called Jamie Fraser. He has just married Claire and I can't help but turn my thinking to my own unmarried status (as my cat strolls past my half eaten chocolate bar - it's Friday night too). There is a time where I would have thought during this scene, 'I'll be happy when I get married' or worse, 'look at me sitting in alone on a Friday night', but actually, as I sit here in my beautiful little home I know that I've spent a lot of time finding the things that bring me real joy. And one of those is having a night in to myself where I can feel rested and get up early for a walk on the beach the next day.
Conscious thinking about cultivating a good life, moving past all the things that bring only momentary happiness, takes effort and can be a continuous journey. But having that joy in your heart and being present in it makes for a good spirit indeed.