Eudaimonia – A Force for Good in Life and in Health

You may have been hearing and reading about chronic inflammation as a driver for devastating diseases from Alzheimer’s to heart disease and many types of cancer. Much of what can do to keep this type of inflammation under healthy wraps is within our control. A whole-foods, plant-based diet, daily invigorating exercise and positive lifestyle rituals are effective “medicine” when it comes to prevention. Mindfulness practices and meditation are also powerful anti-inflammatory medicines, clinically shown to lower the most critical blood and hormonal markers associated with creating and feeding inflammation. The beauty of each of these expressions of self-love and self-care is that they lead to an experience of “eudaimonia,” a deep sense of noble purpose in life, happiness and flourishing.

Eudaimonia is more than an impressive vocabulary word. In 2008, the Journal of Happiness Studies published an article called, “Hedonia, Eudaimonia, and Well-being: an Introduction.” In the abstract of the article, the authors explain, “Research on well-being can be thought of as falling into two traditions. In one—the hedonistic tradition—the focus is on happiness, generally defined as the presence of positive affect and the absence of negative affect. In the other—the eudaimonic tradition—the focus is on living life in a full and deeply satisfying way.”

We can live in a state of eudaimonia when we make a courageous commitment to thinking, eating, and moving, and serving, with passion and purpose. A study out of the University of California, Los Angeles, published in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences authors concluded that people who have a sense of eudaimonia have stronger immunity and lower inflammation. These results should encourage us to embrace this noble way of being to further douse the fires of chronic inflammation. The researchers discovered that individuals who have high levels of eudaimonia “show the most favorable genetic predisposition to health, wellness, longevity and disease prevention associated with inflammation.” When they studied people who they deemed lived more often in a state of flourishing and noble purpose, they found that “their genes” did the same.

We can begin to live a more eudaimonic life when we practice being on purpose versus being on outcome. This means doing things that nourish the soul versus the ego and not doing things that go against your personal values. This practice is paying tremendous dividends. As it turns out, being a eudaimoniac won’t just make you happier, it will help you stay healthier.