When we think of ancient Greek philosophers, we picture older men in white robes debating about political and social issues. However, philosophers actually dominated many subjects including poetry, zoology, and even theater. For example, Aristotle, who is considered one of the most important figures in western philosophy, left behind transcripts on his studies on subjects like ethics and he expanded on an a topic that is of interest to all of us: the pursuit of happiness. So, would Aristotle’s lessons help us improve our way of life? Of course, he studied human behavior and pondered on what made us happy. He stated that a sensation of joy was not a state of the mind but an activity. In addition, he saw happiness as achievable goal and ourselves as capable of developing behaviors to contrast negative obstacles. In other words, “happiness depends on ourselves” and not on destiny or luck. The following lessons can be implemented in your everyday life as they once served as advice for Alexander the Great.
“We cannot learn without pain.”
Aristotle believed there were physical and mental conditions required for us to reach happiness. By telling us that pain is an element of learning, he is saying that experiences where we have been hurt, make us more resistant for future scenarios. For example, remember being hurt by someone else’s decisions? Probably when it came to love matters. You were probably a little naive back then and the pain that this experience taught you now serves as a lesson to protect yourself from future disappointments.
“The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.”
As independent as we think we are, nothings replaces the support that comes with a friend, especially during times when everybody seems to be against us. Aristotle recognized the importance of allies, after he lost his most prominent student, Alexander the Great, when he was chased after his enemies. We all need a friend to rely on and let our friends know they can rely on us too.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
Being desperate over something will not solve an issue faster. Aristotle knew this and his advices helped forged a legendary king of Macedonia who was able to conquer the Persian empire: Alexander the Great.
“The gods too are fond of a joke.”
As mentioned before, Aristotle believed that happiness was not a state but an activity. Thus, it is important to contribute to the reach of our own happiness and enjoy things like laughter. Sometimes we are easily offended by pranks and jokes because we feel embarrassed. The best solution to this is to laugh at yourself and let your guard down for a moment.
“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.”
Aristotle believed in our ability to construct behaviors to overcome obstacles. He said happiness depends in the cultivation of virtue. In other words, taking the steps towards confronting your own fears is a big step directed to accomplishing happiness.
“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.”
Standing from a position with more restrictions than others, can cause frustration and rage at matters associated with luck. For example, coming from a low-income institution while others have the privilege to study at private ones and even abroad, sounds unfair. Bur Aristotle said that even though luck affects happiness, it all came down to how we confronted a situation that made the difference. Inequality can take place in many forms, but thinking about what others have that you don’t, doesn’t solve the problem. Working hard, persistence, and lots of efforts will help you climb to the top.
Aristotle put more thought into the topic of happiness than any other philosopher prior to our era. He focused on finding ways to live life at its fullest and finding meaningful details on the way. When reading his teaching think of how they apply to your daily life and decisions. His teachings might sound simple, but they make a difference in the pursuit of happiness when taken seriously.