Posted in Dharma’s Culture.

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Ever since we committed to the Triple Bottom Line + (TBL+) framework of People, Planet, Profit + Purpose, we continue to evolve our understanding about what makes us happy at Dharma. We know that happiness is not a goal in and of itself (the myth being perpetrated by the American Dream version of the pursuit of happiness, striving for more stuff and status), but that happiness is a byproduct of living a meaningful and purposeful life.

Earlier this year, I was a presenter at the Awakened Leadership Conference where I learned about these two kinds of happiness – Hedonic happiness and Eudaimonic happiness, both of which can be traced to ancient Greek philosophers.

Aristippus, a student of Socrates, believed that happiness could be realized by minimizing situations and things that brought about pain and by maximizing those that bring us pleasure. In fact he was a huge fan of sensual gratification! Unintentionally, I adopted the hedonic philosophy for much of my life as it seemed perfectly logical to avoid misery and to seek pleasurable experiences as much as possible. Of course, this assumes that we actually have control over what happens in our lives, which evidence has pointed out we really do not.

Aristotle, a student of Plato, on the other hand coined a term from the word daimon, meaning true nature. Eudaimonic happiness, then, is about a strong sense of well being resulting from a virtuous life. He felt that happiness from the desires of pleasure was actually kind of vulgar and transient. So living according to one’s true nature is the highest form of fulfillment, which the American psychologist Abraham Maslow also calls Self Actualization based on his Hierarchy of Needs pyramid.

Amazing how real truth applies to and is relevant throughout time and space! We can phrase it this way, which is, “never confuse your life situation with your life.” Your life situation is everything that is subject to change – like relationships, jobs, family, money, health, home, etc., which can bring suffering when lost (or not attained) – versus your life, which is comprised of the qualities of love, compassion, wisdom, understanding, and selflessness that are part of the unchanging true nature of self. May your lives always be filled with the true realization of happiness!