I have always enjoyed immersing myself in the next great book. I have a long-standing love affair with words and language, and I appreciate their long-term effect on the human psyche. Words can transport you to unknown places, introduce you to new people and ideas. Words can change your very being.
I must confess that my constant companion is my Kindle reader. Oh, the luxury of carrying more than two hundred books with me wherever I go! I love non-fiction! History and biography are potent teachers. But, every once in a while, I enjoy the escape of good fiction, and this is how I met Nelson, “The Queen’s Corgi”, by David Michie.
I previously knew author Michie by a trilogy of amazing books, in a series called “The Dali Lama’s Cat”. I could not put these books of simple wisdom down, and then found myself wanting more when I had completed them. So, when my Kindle offered the Corgi book at 99 cents for a “one-day-only” sale, I jumped at the chance. I found it would have been worth more than the full-price offering.
I was not very far into the book when Nelson explained that the Greeks had two different words for happiness; Hedonia and Eudemonia. While very familiar with hedonia, I had never heard the word eudemonia.
Nelson explained that hedonia is the happiness we get when we take from the world. It is all about self-gratification. The focus is on the me. It is receiving happiness from material objects. We all have our little hedonistic moments. We want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. It is ego-centered. Everything that we want in the state of hedonia, comes from the outside world.
Eudemonia, on the other hand, is the happiness we get when we give to the world. It stems from doing good for others and making the world a better place. It is in our compassion, our giving, and our contribution that we find eudemonia. It is a different quality of happiness that comes from within. It is having a good indwelling spirit. It is a characteristic of a well-lived life.
Hedonia has a built-in shelf life. That first doughnut may be just the thing for immediate gratification, but will the tenth doughnut reap the same reward?
With eudemonia, the more we give, the greater our own sense of well-being. It is a state of excellence that can span a lifetime.
There are four stages of happiness: Anticipation, Savoring, Expression, and Reflection. It is when we want to see everyone experiencing happiness, that we are at our spiritual best. Eudemonia.
As you interact in the world today, start to notice your contribution. Start small, if you must, but just start. Could someone use a smile, give them yours. Do you give compliments even to strangers? It might just make someone’s day. Are you holding on to something that you no longer use, when someone else would benefit from it? Do you stop what you are doing to offer a hand, lend an ear, give a hug? Everyone needs these things. Do you ever take the opportunity to pay it forward?
Take stock of the blessings in your life. Do it frequently. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was as lucky as you are? Practice gratitude. Practice compassion. Practice a giving nature. In doing this, you will know the feeling of eudemonia. It is such a good thing! Thank you Nelson, the Corgi, for giving me the word that describes a lifestyle that I aspire to, and practice daily.