“[There is an] age-old debate over two kinds of happiness that scholars refer to as hedonia and eudaimonia. Hedonia is about feeling good; eudaimonia is about living a purpose-filled life. In truth, we need both. Hedonia without eudaimonia devolves into empty pleasure; eudaimonia without hedonia can become dry…. I think we should seek work that is a balance of enjoyable and meaningful. At the nexus of enjoyable and meaningful is interesting.” — Arthur C. Brooks, From Strength to Strength
There’s a special kind of joy that comes from marrying purpose with happiness. When we find our engagement with the world has both a why and joyfulness we enter blissful work. If this seems evasive, it’s because it is. Some people never find one or the other, let alone both in their lives. I believe it’s usually tapping us on the shoulder asking us to stop staring straight ahead and take a look at what we’ve been missing all along.
The secret, always, is the people we surround ourselves with. When we’re constantly lifting up those around us, we can’t help but be dragged down ourselves. When others share the lift, the weight of the world seems lighter. When others lift us up in turn, we reach heights we might not have thought possible previously. We are the average of the people we surround ourselves with, so we ought to raise the average both in whom we spend our time with and the character we bring to the table.
When we stop trying so damned hard to be happy or to find purpose and simply contribute our verse, we find over time that things like happiness simply happen organically. Building a lifetime of contribution and engagement with the world we find our foundation becomes stronger and we’re able to weather the inevitable storms that wash over us that erode weaker foundations. Life becomes a layer cake of happiness and purpose, repeated. When done in the company of exceptional people, what a wonderful life we might build together.