If we would have a clear purpose in life, a personal ‘why’, one that brings us fulfilment and gives us the sensation that we are living our most authentic selves, we would have direction and infinite motivation. If you say that your ‘why’ is to make money, than I would ask you what it is that you need that money for? You see, your ‘why’ goes much deeper than mere obtaining results. It is an internal driving force. If we have figured out our own personal ‘why’, we can use it as a power source to do everything that is in alignment with it.
In current society we might neglect our well-being in order to pursue a goal, such as work that we do not like to earn money for things we do not need. I am not saying that all our purchases are meaningless, but it is true that we can buy things that we do not really need. Most of the time this is because we do not know why we are doing what we do. Does that mean that it is necessary for us to have a greater purpose in order to be happy and enjoy life? Do we need to find meaning in all that we do in order to enjoy life?
‘The goal of life is to experience the maximum amount of pleasure, and happiness is the totality of one’s hedonic moments’
I have come across two views of looking at the term ‘well-being’. One being the hedonic view which suggests that well-being is the attainment of happiness and pleasure, and the avoidance of negative emotions. This view accepts a more subjective version of well-being. Happiness is formed from a combination of life satisfaction, the presence of a positive mood, and the absence of a negative mood.
The other view , the eudaimonic view, of well-being suggests that people live as their most true authentic self. Eudaimonia occurs when a person’s activities correspond to his deeply held values and he/she is fully engaged in them. When someone behaves in such a way that they are being their most truest self, they feel intensively alive and authentic. The eudaimonic view is more concerned with personal growth and development. It searches for challenges in order to overcome them, whereas the hedonic view tries to get away from problems in order to be in a relaxed and happy state.
So now we have encountered a big difference between the two. Where one suggests that we should avoid negative experiences, the other states that we should face them head on. I do not think that one is better than the other, and the literature states that these two views tend to overlap. So maybe it is about combining the two?
‘Eudaimonia is commonly translated as happiness, but I believe a more accurate translation would be fittingness: how well your actions match your gifts, match who you are’
– Derrick Jansen
I believe that both are very relatable in our societies, and in the crisis we are all in now. I think that most of modern people are focused on the hedonic view of well-being, meaning that they search for happiness and try to avoid unpleasantness. There is nothing wrong with that. Relaxation and meditation, for example, would fit with this view. I only question this view in terms of how motivating it can be. Can it be a source of power where we get our drive from? Can this longing for happiness be strong enough for us to get through difficult times like the crisis we are in right now?
We might say that the hedonic view is more focused on the present, whereas the eudaimonic view is more focused on the long-run. I think it is clear that the eudaimonic view suggests that we should all figure out our ´why´, or in another term, our ´purpose´. I strive to live life being the most authentic I can be. I have experienced that this brings me fulfilment and what I consider to be true happiness. The clearer my purpose is, the stronger my drive and the easier I can get through difficult times.
‘Our struggles are the short-term steps we must take on our way to long-term success’
– Simon Sinek
It is such a privilege to be able to wake up every morning. Opening our eyes after a night of sleep is life´s way of saying that we are not done yet. We are here to do something, at least I believe so. Do you know why you do what you do? Why you get up in the morning? And why anyone should care that you get up? These are question which Simon Sinek starts off his book ‘Find your why’, and they really got me thinking.
It is understandable if you do not have your answers ready. These questions are not easy ones to answer. If you think, for example, that you wake up every morning to go to work then you are not describing you ‘why’, but you are describing your ‘what’. Your job is something that you do, but your ‘why’ is the meaning behind what you do.
‘True happiness is found in expression of virtue, doing what is worth doing’
One of the most important things in people’s lives is to figure out their ‘why’, or at least I like to believe it to be so. When we have figured out what it is that we find important, meaningful, and fulfilling, we can make better choices. Does this item fit with my ‘why’ or does this behaviour serve my ‘purpose’? When we know why we do what we do, we can get through difficult times knowing that we are serving a greater purpose. We think in the long-term and not just in the short-term, and it gets easier to get up in the morning.
How do we figure out our ‘why’? Next week I will continue to discuss this subject and give tools on how to find within ourselves what we find most meaningful.
If you have experienced this text to be helpful and insightful, please share it with others. Let us spread love and awareness together. Let me know what you think of this post in the comments below or send me an e-mail. I encourage you to share your experience or thoughts!
Sinek, S., Mead, D., & Docker, P. (2017). Find your why. Penguin: New York, New York
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On Happiness and Human Potentials: A review of Research on Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141-166