By Roberto A. Blanco, M.D.
The search for a good definition of happiness is not a new idea and certainly not one that I thought of. Over 300 years before Christ and in his book entitled NicomacheanEthics, Aristotle proposed his definition of happiness to the ancient Greek people and laid out his arguments for the meaning of happiness. He argued that having true happiness is the best and final aim for human activity. Aristotle called true happiness “eudaimonia” which was a type of long-lasting happiness more consistent with human fulfillment or satisfaction. Aristotle also believed that happiness should be human fulfillment and not confused with joy or pleasure when he wrote:
For one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one sunny day;
similarly, one day or a short time does not make a man blessed and happy.
Kahlil Gibran, the famous Christian mystic poet from the early 20th century, also believed in eudomainia. When Almustafa, the all-knowing visitor in the poem The Prophet, answers a woman’s question on pain, he exemplifies this belief in the beauty of human fulfillment and long-lasting satisfaction despite these painful episodes:
1. Aristotle (1999). Nicomachean Ethics. (Martin Ostwald Trans.) Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.
2. Gibran, Kahlil (1964). The Prophet . New York: Alfred A. Knopf.