"... The second one is eudaemonia, the good life, which is what Thomas Jefferson and Aristotle meant by the pursuit of happiness. They did not mean smiling a lot and giggling. Aristotle talks about the pleasures of contemplation and the pleasures of good conversation. Aristotle is not talking about raw feeling, about thrills, about orgasms. Aristotle is talking about what Mike Csikszentmihalyi works on, and that is, when one has a good conversation, when one contemplates well. When one is in eudaemonia, time stops. You feel completely at home. Self-consciousness is blocked. You're one with the music...
Coming out this month as part of the DSM is a classification of strengths and virtues; it's the opposite of the classification of the insanities. When we look we see that there are six virtues, which we find endorsed across cultures, and these break down into 24 strengths. The six virtues that we find are non-arbitrary first, a wisdom and knowledge cluster; second, a courage cluster; third, virtues like love and humanity; fourth, a justice cluster; fifth a temperance, moderation cluster; and sixth a spirituality, transcendence cluster. We sent people up to northern Greenland, and down to the Masai, and are involved in a 70-nation study in which we look at the ubiquity of these. Indeed, we're beginning to have the view that those six virtues are just as much a part of human nature as walking on two feet are."
"But there's a third form of life, and if you're a bridge player like me, or a stamp collector, you can have eudaemonia; that is, you can be in flow. But everyone finds that as they grow older and look in the mirror they worry that they're fidgeting until they die. That's because there's a third form of happiness that is ineluctably pursued by humans, and that's the pursuit of meaning... Aristotle said the two noblest professions are teaching and politics, and I believe that as well. Raising children, and projecting a positive human future through your children, is a meaningful form of life. Saving the whales is a meaningful form of life. Fighting in Iraq is a meaningful form of life. Being an Arab terrorist is a meaningful form of life.
Notice, this isn't a distinction between good and evil. That's not part of this. This isn't a theory of everything. This is a theory of meaning, and the theory says, joining and serving in things larger than you that you believe in while using your highest strengths is a recipe for meaning. One of the things people don't like about my theory is that suicide bombers and the firemen who saved lives and lost their lives both had meaningful lives. I would condemn one as evil and the other as good, but not on the grounds of meaning."
A focus on studying and building positive psych.
EUDAEMONIA, THE GOOD LIFE - A Talk with Martin Seligman