“Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”- Aristotle. Do you agree with Aristotle’s statement? Discuss why/ why not.
While happiness in a scientific sense can be explained as the chemicals released throughout our bodies, it still doesn’t tell us fully why these are chemicals are sent and what it means in the overall human experience in scientific terms. From an artistic perspective happiness is the largest component in providing self-worth to one’s self and with its absence we see people delve into the depths of depression losing the motivation and ability to perform tasks and live life to its fullest, and in some extreme cases losing the will to live. On the opposite side of depression there is euphoria and this is where people experience moments in their life that they remember and cherish during times of reflection, it is at these moments when we find the most purpose in our lives especially when we enjoy what we are enjoying so therefore Aristotle’s statement can easily be viewed as correct as this essay will argue for.
What does it mean to be happy? It seems that this is another one of those questions that can be argued in multiple ways but for this essay I will take Aristotle’s definition. Happiness, from Aristotle’s definition of a human as a being who recognises his potential to give form to himself (Colebrook 2006, p. 2). A person with depression and the utter lack of happiness views themself as worthless and lose their passion of living, losing much their ability and potential. This fact of people committing suicide when they are overcome with sadness demonstrates that without happiness human beings lose their meaning and passion in life. Without this passion and drive depressed people tend to isolate themselves and do not ‘live’ their lives to its fullest extent.
It seems therefore that the purpose of our lives is to find those things that do make us happy, and then doing them. If there’s a certain person in our lives that makes us happy, we need to find a way to spend more time with them. Because if you’re not happy, you need to look at your life and think about why you aren’t feeling that amazing thing you want to be feeling. When a person reflects back on their life in their elder years the memoires they tend to remember are based around the feelings of joy and happiness such as the birth of their children or their first kiss, spending times with friends etc. These memories are fundamentally the building blocks of their personalities and without these moments of happiness a person would more than likely feel unfulfilled in their lives in reflection. We see this time and again when renowned people who have achieved great accomplishments turn to drugs and seep into mental illness when they are not happy with the direction of their life. This then demonstrates that regardless of what you accomplish if you are not enjoying what you are doing you may lose meaning in your life and turn to unhealthy methods so that you can cope with your current life style.
Thirdly when people have the available time and resources it is more than likely that they will spend this leisure time doing activities that make them feel happy and give them self-satisfaction. ‘Happiness can also be a by-product of working’ (Andersen, W, 2008) occupation that the person enjoys. It therefore seems that humans will go through burdens so that they may enjoy the activity of their choice. An example of this would be working all week in a occupation you do not enjoy so that you may go on a camping trip with your family, supporting the coming saying that people ‘live for the weekend’ as that is during the time when they are doing activities they enjoy, although these kinds of one off activities do not demonstrate lifelong happiness it must be something ongoing, a more long term activity that can be used as an example could be coaching a junior sport team. This therefore demonstrates if recreational activities are what people are working towards and it is what makes them happy it must then tie in with what they consider meaningful in life and therefore be its purpose.
If you can find something that makes you happy, truly happy, then life will be a lot better for you. It can’t be something superficial, or something that only lasts for a day or two. It’s something that affects your entire life. It lasts. It burns inside of you and it doesn’t go out. That is happiness. It is therefore clear that Aristotle’s statement that happiness is the meaning and purpose of life can be argued as correct on multiple basis’s such as those people lacking happiness losing all meaning and purpose as explained in the second paragraph. In addition when people look back on their lives in reflection it is moments of happiness that people are most likely to remember and cherish and not those of turmoil and heartache. Furthermore people will pursue activities they find enjoyment and happiness in when given the opportunity demonstrating that they live for those brief moments of time. In conclusion it is clear that Aristotle’s statement may well be correct but it is entirely dependent on the individual to find what makes them happy.
Colebrook, C 2006, Narrative Happiness and the meaning of life Andersen, W, 2008, Journal of Christian education, vol 51, No. 2, p1/p17
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