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7 Ways to Boost Eudaimonic Well-Being

Eudaimonia is a life well-lived. Here are some tips on how to create it.

Key points

  • Eudaimonia has been defined as a life well-lived, or human flourishing, and usually includes authenticity, excellence, growth and meaning.
  • Ways to promote eudaimonia include standing by one's values, writing down one's biggest goals, and developing skills that bring one joy.
  • Being authentic to one's true self, engaging in positive activities, and focusing on the quality of relationships can also promote eudaimonia.
Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

Cowritten by Arasteh Gatchpazian and Tchiki Davis, Ph.D.

Another way to understand happiness is with the concept of eudaimonia, which combines eu (good) and daimon (spirit). Eudaimonia has been defined as a life well-lived, or human flourishing. A systematic review on eudaimonia found that most definitions include the following four elements (Huta & Waterman, 2014):

To learn more about your own well-being check out this well-being quiz.

Ways to increase eudaimonic well-being

We’ve talked a lot about eudaimonia, but perhaps you still need more help to create it. Here are a few actionable steps that you can take to promote eudaimonia:

1. Express your values and stick to them

We all have different values. If something is truly important to you, try your best to stand by it, even when others don’t agree. This will also help you feel true to yourself (see #6).

2. Write down your biggest goals

I know this sounds like a daunting task, but hear me out. This isn’t your usual career goal or where you want to see yourself in 20 years. These are goals that reflect your core values. Sure, they can be related to your career, but think about it at a broader level. For example, some of my big goals are "to help people who are struggling" and "to stand up for marginalized groups."

3. Develop and refine your skills and capabilities

No matter who you are, you are good at something (or many things). You have personality traits that can help you achieve your goals (re: #2). Maybe you’re good at giving advice, or you're detail-oriented, or you have an ear for music. Whatever it is, focus your efforts on developing the skills that bring you joy.

4. Focus on the quality, not quantity, of your relationships

This might seem obvious, but social connections play a major role in well-being. Of course, you’ll form new relationships as you start different chapters of your life, but remember not to neglect the people you cherish and truly care about. This can be as simple as expressing gratitude or calling them now and then to check in. Also, sometimes relationships are no longer serving us, which may mean it’s time for those to end.

5. Do the things you genuinely want to do

As you read earlier, you might engage in something because it’s personally rewarding (i.e., intrinsic motivation) or externally rewarding (i.e., extrinsic motivation). Find things you love to do, and not only have to do. Yes, life is full of responsibilities and activities that are extrinsically motivated, but even a few side hobbies that are self-motivated and bring you joy can be helpful in the long run.

6. Be authentic and true to yourself

Have you ever felt not quite like "yourself" after saying or doing something? Me too. We all have those moments. It’s not a comfortable feeling because it feels like you’re lying to yourself. It’s no wonder that authenticity is such a big part of eudaimonia.

7. Do positive activities

What are some things you can do in daily life to promote eudaimonia? A study by Steger and colleagues (2008) outlined the following eudaimonic activities:

  • Volunteering one’s time
  • Giving money to someone in need
  • Writing out one’s future goals
  • Expressing gratitude for another’s actions
  • Carefully listening to another’s point of view
  • Confiding in someone about something that is of personal importance
  • Persevering at valued goals in spite of obstacles

Adapted from an article published by The Berkeley Well-Being Institute.

References

Hursthouse, R. (1999). On virtue ethics. Oxford University Press.

Huta, V., & Waterman, A. S. (2014). Eudaimonia and its distinction from hedonia: Developing a classification and terminology for understanding conceptual and operational definitions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(6), 1425–1456.

Steger, M. F., Kashdan, T. B., & Oishi, S. (2008). Being good by doing good: Daily eudaimonic activity and well-being. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(1), 22–42.

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