You’re probably not working on anything you care about.
You’re probably not using your strengths.
And you are probably disillusioned by the idea of “the pursuit of happiness”.
In these modern times, we have found ourselves more often than not, wondering about what makes us happy. Whether it be focused in career, family, or hobbies, people are trying to find ways to live and balance a fulfilling life.
So where can we find happiness?
We can look to find happiness in eudaimonia. As defined by Aristotle, it is the state desirable as an end in and of itself rather than as a means toward another end.
In many ways, people suffer to achieve this state- the state of being all that you could possibly be in your life.
“Living well does not mean avoiding suffering; it means suffering for the right reasons. While pain is inevitable, suffering is always a choice.” “The most meaningful freedom in your life comes from your commitments, the things in life for which you have chosen to sacrifice.”Mark Manson, Everything is F*cked
Suffering in a life well-lived is the feeling of weariness and contentment at the end of a busy, but enjoyable day. It’s the sensation of flopping onto the couch, wasted full of tired pride after the close of a challenging project. It is the exhausted, heady feeling after great sex or a long run.
“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible.”George Bernard Shaw
To be used up and satisfied.
Ever since I quit my job and dove headfirst into the trenches of learning and writing on the Internet to find fulfilling work, it feels like I’m chasing something constantly formless and slippery. My thoughts and ideas are constantly evolving and taking different shapes that I have to take the time to study and experiment with it. It’s like living under a microscope of my own making- analyzing, unpacking, psychometrically testing… there’s not much space for nourishment or replenishment. It can feel self-indulgent and lonely.
But I chose a path that allows me to make it up. I get to define, create, and achieve the version of fulfilling work that speaks to me at the deepest level. And the beauty of it is that there will be someone out there that is affected by it. After a little more than two months, I am already beginning to see very small, minute effects of my work spill out into the lives of others.
Nevertheless, fulfillment (or eudaimonia) is not the same as happiness. It’s not about being joyful and perky and excited all day, every day. It’s about feeling alive- the passing of living time constantly pressing on your very skin from the inside out.
It’s about finding ways to embrace and use your whole self– even the parts that don’t look great on a resume or don’t fit into the traditional world of work– and bring it all to the table.
“An inevitable though often-ignored dimension of the quest for ‘wholeness’ is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of.”Parker Palmer