Bring back Eudaimonia

Happiness is an overused word.

When somebody says, ‘I’ll be happy to do that’, they simply mean that they agree to do something.

‘I’m happy with my work’, translates to ‘I’m satisfied with my work’.

‘The children’s happy laughter filled the playground’. Here, happy means excited.

And then we talk about the ‘pursuit of happiness’. Here, we refer to happiness as the joy of leading a good life. The Greeks had a specific word for this – Eudaimonia. The Greeks held Eudaimonia as the highest human good and made it the aim of philosophy, ethics and politics.

In the 21st century, two millennia after the ancient Greeks, a meaningful life continues to evade us. A good place to start would be to coin a new word to signify this pursuit. Perhaps one that rolls off the tongue easier than ‘Eudaimonia’.

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