Aristotle on How to Be Happy

All of us want the same thing–to be happy. As mothers, we especially want our children to be happy. But how is happiness accomplished? Is happiness something we can control or just something we hope happens to us?

According to Aristotle, happiness is not only within our reach but is attainable for ALL of us! The best part is, in striving for happiness, we become a much better person in the process, because, as Aristotle teaches, happiness is simply the result of becoming a virtuous person!

Listen to this podcast for an overview of Aristotle’s incredible classic Nicomachean Ethics where he defines happiness and virtue and then shows us the path to a virtuous, happy life!

Listener’s Guide:

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast. 

2:10  Happiness and virtue defined
8:00  Courage
15:20  Temperance 
17:19  Liberality
21:04  Magnificence 
22:25  Proper pride  
26:07  Good temper
27:23  Truthfulness 
28:17  Justice
30:48  Equity 
33:08  Intellectual Virtues  

Quotes from this episode:

“…happiness is an activity of soul in accordance with perfect virtue…”

“Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it.”

“…it is no easy task to be good.”

“Again, wish relates rather to the end, choice to the means; for instance we wish to be healthy but we choose the acts which will make us healthy.”

“…we are masters of our actions from the beginning right to the end…”

“…sudden actions must be in accordance with one’s state of character.”

“Now by ‘wealth’ we mean all the things whose value is measured by money. Further, prodigality and meanness are excesses and defects with regard to wealth…”

“Nor will he neglect his own property, since he wishes by means of this to help others.”

“…the liberal are almost the most loved of all virtuous characters since they are useful; and this depends on their giving.”

“…for the magnificent man spends not on himself but on public objects.”

“For the unduly humble man, being worthy of good things, robs himself of what he deserves, and seems to have something bad about him from the fact that he does not think himself worthy of good things, and seems also not to know himself; else he would have desired the things he was worthy of, since these are good…for each class of people aims at what corresponds to its worthy, and these people stand back even from noble actions and undertakings, deeming themselves unworthy…”

“Vain people, on the other hand, are fools and ignorant of themselves, and manifestly; for, not being worthy of them, they attempt honorable undertakings, and then are found out; and they adorn themselves with clothing and outward show and such things, and wish their strokes of good fortune made public, and speak about them as if they would be honored for them. But undue humility is more opposed to pride than vanity is; for it is both commoner and worse.”

“When the law speaks universally, then, and a case arises on it which is not covered by the universal statement, then it is right, where the legislator fails us and has erred by over-simplicity, to correct the omission—to say what the legislator himself would have said had he been present, and would have put into his law if he had know.”

“If follows that the wise man must not only know what follows from the first principles, but must also possess truth about the first principles.”

“…for virtue makes us aim at the right mark, and practical wisdom makes us take the right means.”

“If reason is divine, then, in comparison with man, the life according to it is divine in comparison with human life.”

“…so far as we can, make ourselves immortal, and strain every nerve to live in accordance with the best thing in us.”

“Now if you take away from a living being action, and still more production, what is left but contemplation? Therefore the activity of God, which surpasses all others in blessedness, most be contemplative and of human activities, therefore, that which is most akin tot his must be most of the nature of happiness.”

Book from this episode: