Meaning and Purpose

Eudaimonic Well-Being

Last time we explored hedonia – one of the pathways to happiness/well-being. Now to look at the second pathway, eudaimonia, in more detail.

Eudaimonia: has roots in the Ancient Greek words ‘eu’ meaning good and ‘daimon’ meaning power, fate, lesser deity or guiding spirit.

A brief review; eudaimonic well-being comes from actions which create a sense of meaning and purpose in us or when we feel we’ve had the opportunity to realise our potential. These acts/situations fit well with our personal values and allow us to apply our strengths. Often, they may include acts which contribute to the greater good.

Eudaimonic well-being goes beyond simply ‘feeling good’, it’s stronger than a sense of satisfaction or pleasure. Research has shown that more lasting positive effects on our well-being are created by actions that promote feelings of eudaimonia.

Four common aspects of eudaimonia are outlined below – these provide us with a useful guide to help actively increase our eudaimonic well-being.

  1. Authenticity: identify your core values and actively use them in your life.
  2. Excellence: aim for excellence in your behaviour and beliefs.
  3. Meaning: think about the ‘bigger picture’, get involved in an area or a cause that goes beyond yourself.
  4. Growth: seek opportunities to learn and grow as an individual, set personal goals and be open to challenges.

We don’t have to target all areas at once; instead making efforts in one or two areas is sufficient to bring an increased sense of eudaimonia. You might like to take some time to reflect on the areas of authenticity, excellence, meaning and growth outlined above and decide how they relate to you.

Your strengths

Being aware of your personal strengths will help you with all of the four areas above. Many people are reluctant to talk about their strengths or may not have thought about themselves in this way before – but we all have strengths. They are characteristics that capture what is best about us, they come naturally, and we enjoy using them.

Take time to note down what you’re good at and ask other people for their views on your strengths. There are also various online strengths assessments such as Strengths Profile or the VIA Character Strengths that you may be interested in exploring.

When you’ve identified some of your personal strengths, why not set yourself a challenge? Think of different ways you can use three of your strengths in everyday life – try and make the actions of benefit to both yourself and others. Being aware of your strengths and actively using them can boost your well-being.

strength scenario

Imagine the situation described below; how does it actively develop the areas of authenticity, meaning and even excellence that were outlined earlier? Why would Matt’s sense of well-being be increased if he applied his strengths to this situation?

  • Strengths: Matt’s identified the strengths of kindness and equality in himself.
  • Situation: There’s someone at his workplace that often gets spoken over in meetings and/or isn’t given credit for their ideas. They’re lacking the confidence to challenge the way they’re being treated.
  • Action: Matt actively shows he’s listening to the person in meetings, giving them encouragement both verbally and through the use of positive body language. He openly credits them for their ideas to other colleagues.

both paths are of value

Over the last few posts we’ve looked at two pathways to well-being, hedonia and eudaimonia. Both are of importance and contribute differently to our well-being, so exploring both are encouraged. Neither offer a direct route to an end point/goal – instead they suggest behaviour and actions which can generate an enhanced sense of well-being.

If you’re interested in developing your eudaimonic well-being a little further, why not make time to act on some of the points above?  

Thanks for reading!

Published by Improve My Well-being

Laura is an experienced mentor and teacher, with a MSc Applied Positive Psychology (Distinction). She enjoys living and working in multicultural environments and is passionate about promoting social well-being. Blogging is her outlet to share and explore well-being initiatives and practices with as many people as possible.

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