Aristotle’s 10 Rules for a Good Life

Aristotle’s 10 Rules for a Good Life

Although Positive Psychology, the science of happiness and thriving, is based on rigorous research, some of the early development was inspired by great philosophers and religious thinkers.

In particular, the happiness philosophies of the great Ancient Greeks, including Aristotle, were very influential.

In this article, Arthur C Brooks via the Atlantic sums up 10 great rules of a great life, inspired by Aristotle and entirely consistent with the happiness creating strategies that have evolved from positive psychology …

Many people say they are looking for happiness. They spend a lot of time and resources searching for the secrets of well-being, like old-time miners prospecting for gold. But for some sages throughout history, this is the wrong approach. Happiness isn’t something to be found; it’s something to attract.

Perhaps the most famous proponent of the second path was the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He defined happiness as eudaemonia, which means “good spirit.” To us moderns, this might sound vaporous, like the superficial happy feelings that so many people (incorrectly, in my view) chase. Instead, the philosopher meant that happiness was a divine state that would visit each of us as it pleased. Our only responsibility was to open the door to it. And we do so by living well.

To live well, we should practice specific virtues and make them into habits. As Aristotle wrote in his Nicomachean Ethics, “If it is better to be happy as a result of one’s own exertions than by the gift of fortune, it is reasonable to suppose that this is how happiness is won.” Here are 10 of the virtues he recommends—which, as modern research shows, do generally attract the good spirit.

Aristotle wrote about courage in the context of the willingness to sacrifice one’s life, such as in war. Whether he would recognize the virtue in our modern settings is hard to guess—who knows what he would say about the fear of being canceled on social media? But the question at hand is not the source of fear but whether courage—to act in the face of fear rather than give in to it—invites happiness. And the research suggests that it does: Scholars have shown that courage can lead to resilience after adversity, and resilience leads to greater happiness.

By this, the philosopher means self-control in the face of one’s appetites and base impulses. He would classify the hippie motto “If it feels good, do it!” as a recipe for misery. Modern researchers investigating self-control agree, but with a twist. Scholars writing in the Journal of Personality in 2017 found that as impulse control among college students increased over the course of a day, positive affect initially fell. As self-control kept rising, however, negative feelings decreased; happiness rose to its highest levels when self-control was at its highest as well. In other words, a little moderation isn’t so good for well-being, but immoderate moderation may be great.

By this, the philosopher is referring not to politics (liberalism) but to money. Specifically, he recommends avoiding stinginess but without being profligate. In fact, evidence suggests that being a cheapskate influences your well-being. For example, three economists in 2014 set up an ultimatum-bargaining game in which participants had to split a certain amount of money: One participant offered a certain split; the other could say yes or no, but no meant that neither side got anything, so the offer of a lousy split could be answered with spite. The authors found that physical stress levels were higher for both parties when the bargaining involved offered a split lower than 40 percent…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE