Unraveling Reality {38} Well-Being


“The good life is a process, not a state of being.” ~ American psychologist Carl Rogers

It is well-known that psychological weal correlates with physical health. Aristotle distinguished 2 kinds of well-being: hedonia and eudaimonia (from daimon: true nature). Whereas hedonic pleasure produces moments of happiness, eudaimonia satisfies.

Hedonic and eudaimonic well-being were originally distinguished to resolve basic and ancient philosophical questions regarding the best way for humans to live. ~ American psychologist Kimberly Coffey et al

Aristotle deemed happiness a vulgar idea, stressing that not all desires are worth pursuing – some may yield pleasure, but not produce wellness. Aristotle considered eudaimonia true happiness: finding meaning and purpose beyond self-gratification. Discussion of the links between character and eudaimonia was one of the central concerns of ancient philosophical thought on ethics.

“Although hedonic and eudaimonic well-being are conceptually distinct, they are empirically correlated and can reciprocally influence each other.” ~ American social psychologist Barbara Fredrickson et al

Both hedonia and eudaimonia make one feel good, but their import is distinct. Whereas eudaimonia is correlated with physical health, hedonic pleasure is not. The physical impact of hedonia and eudaimonia carry all the way into one’s genes, where hedonic happiness registers negatively: much different than eudaimonic satisfaction.

“An adverse molecular physiology of hedonic well-being appears not to register at the level of experienced affect. This dissociation of molecular well-being from affective well-being implies the potential for an objective approach to moral philosophy rooted in the utility of health and the basic biology of human nature.” ~ American immunologist Steven Cole et al

Aristotle was right about well-being involving positive engagement with the world, not self-centered pleasure.