“Eudaimonea” is a concept that was first really articulated in Greek philosophy and thus carries the Greek name, which loosely translated means “the good life.”
In college I majored in political science with a minor in political theory. People generally think this means I know a lot about politics. Really, what it means is that I took a ton of philosophy and humanities classes. I think that was a good choice, since a few years after you take classes like “Chinese Transportation Policy” you can safely assume that your knowledge is out of date and your $687 per class hour is down the drain, whereas when I am 125 I am certain people will still be reading Plato and discussing Kant. Of course, at the age of 125 I may or may not be coherent enough to wax eloquent about the Aristotelian Mean, but at least if I am I won’t be the only one who knows what that is.
Having read a wide variety of works by the great thinkers of history, I think it’s interesting that all of them, in one way or another, wrestle with defining the good life and how to attain it.
For some, the good life means wealth and power, for others it is beauty and love, still others thought the good life would come through asceticism and self-denial.
How do you define the good life? Can life be good even when it’s bad? In thinking about this, Philippians 4:11-13 came to mind:
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
I think perhaps the good life can be defined and attained by keeping my focus on the Lord. I have many things to be thankful for, things that make my life good, but ultimately if all of that were stripped away, I trust that Christ would still be sufficient for me. It’s easy to say that, but sometimes harder to live it out when things go wrong or life gets overwhelming. I am blessed to have known many people who, in the midst of horrible and catastrophic circumstances, still live contentedly and consider their lives to be rich and full. I think the common denominator in their lives is reliance on Christ and His strength. In making my resolutions for 2007, I am bearing their examples in mind and endeavoring to maintain my focus on and trust in the Lord.