Aristotle | The Purpose of Life

Aristotle | The Purpose of Life


(384 BC – 322 BC)

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher whose ideas have deeply influenced science, philosophy and religion for more than two thousand years. He is known as the father of logical, scientific thinking. Although many of his scientific beliefs were later proved wrong, other of his discoveries in physics, biology and zoology were centuries ahead of their time.

Aristotle was born near modern-day Thessaloniki, Greece. His father was physician to the King of Macedon, so Aristotle was raised as an aristocrat and studied under the greatest thinker of the time, the famous Plato. Aristotle’s theories were the basis of modern science, and his works on philosophy and ethics helped form the teachings of religions and philosophers that are still held in high regard to this day.

Aristotle | The Purpose of Life

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

When I first read this quotation from Aristotle, I thought it was simplistic. I reasoned that Aristotle had lived a long time ago and perhaps life was less complicated then. After many years of study, however, I have come to the conclusion that Aristotle was correct; the quest for happiness is indeed universal. After all, whose life quest is to be unhappy?

The challenge lies in finding the difference between what we believe will make us happy versus what actually does make us happy.

Discovering where happiness comes from is the process of finding fulfillment. Many people assume that happiness comes from making money, which will allow them to buy things. In my experience and observation, happiness comes from serving other people – and I don’t mean “serving” in the sense of “volunteering,” I mean using our own gifts for the benefit of others in a way that is meaningful to us. (This may, in fact, be the way we earn our living.)

So how do we figure out which of our gifts will allow us to find happiness by serving others? Aristotle talked about that, too, when he said, ”Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” This search can take years. Be patient.

The journey begins with accepting yourself. So many of us are trying to be someone else. So first you have to accept yourself as you are. The next step is to believe in yourself.

From there, your instincts will guide you toward knowledge of what will make you happy, and the ways in which you need to treat others in order to be fulfilled.

We all need to work on “becoming” ourselves. We need to become ourselves more and more every day – and on that journey, we need to be our own best friends.

Aristotle | In His Own Words

Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.

For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing.

To be conscious that we are perceiving or thinking is to be conscious of our own existence.

Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.

The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead.

He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.

Education is the best provision for old age.

Hope is a waking dream.

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.


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