The AtlanticThe Atlantic

Aristotle’s 10 rules for a good life

By Arthur C. Brooks

10 Aug 2023 · 6 min read

informed Summary

  1. Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that happiness is not something to be found, but something to attract by practicing specific virtues and turning them into habits. He proposed ten virtues that attract happiness.

Many people say they are looking for happiness. They spend a lot of time and resources searching for the secrets of well-being, like old-time miners prospecting for gold. But for some sages throughout history, this is the wrong approach. Happiness isn’t something to be found; it’s something to attract.

Perhaps the most famous proponent of the second path was the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He defined happiness as eudaemonia, which means “good spirit.” To us moderns, this might sound vaporous, like the superficial happy feelings that so many people (incorrectly, in my view) chase. Instead, the philosopher meant that happiness was a divine state that would visit each of us as it pleased. Our only responsibility was to open the door to it. And we do so by living well.

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