This is another in a series of blogs based on Victor Strecher’s Book, “Life on Purpose.” The Japanese have a word for “Life on Purpose” and that is ikigai, which is used in these posts because it has an earlier appearance in this blog and is shorter. It is important to realize that there are two kinds of happiness that need to be understood to achieve effective ikigai.
The ancient Greeks thought that every person had an inner daimon and that we should find and live in harmony with it. Aristotle used the word eudaemonia to describe the connection with the true self. This concept of a true self that transcends one’s ego-focused desires is found in many Western and Eastern religions as well as in more modern psychological approaches. Abraham Maslow eventually felt required to add self-transcendence above self-actualization, esteem, love/belonging, safety, physiological in his hierarchy of needs.
Aristotle asserted that the happiness attained by the self-transcending state of eudaemonia may be contrasted with self-enhancing “hedonia,” which concerns hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure derived from gratifying short-term desires. Aristotle understood that we all seek hedonic pleasure, but he warned against the excess of it, stating, “The many, the most vulgar, would seem to conceive the good and happiness as pleasure…Here they appear completely slavish, since the life they decide is a life for grazing animals.”
The American philosopher David Norton asserted that “most of us today have no sense of an oracle within…Turning our backs to the void, we become infinitely distractible by outward things, prizing those that ”demand our attention, We secretly treasure the atmosphere of world crises, for the mental ambulance-chasing it affords. Meanwhile we armor ourselves with mirrors to deflect the inquiring eyes of others.” David Norton passed away in 1995 before smart-phones. Today, Norton’s sentiments need to be increased by several orders of magnitude.
Dr. Strecher says that if Aristotle were alive today, he might counsel, “Listen to your heart and don’t act like Charlie Sheen.” HM believes that Aristotle would choose Donald Trump over Charlie Sheen. Trump has taken narcissism to new levels. Here is the definition of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) “a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others’ feelings. People affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power or success, or about their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them. The behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of situations.”
HM also finds it amusing to think of Trump as a “grazing animal.”
But there are many people who are eudaemonic. Pope Francis is one who quickly comes to mind.
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