Eudaimonia as a Way of Living: Connecting Aristotle with Self-Determination Theory

  • Richard M. RyanEmail author
  • Frank Martela
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


The chapter starts with a discussion of eudaimonia as originally used by Aristotle and his contemporaries. We argue that eudaimonia should not be understood as referring to any kind of subjective experience or ‘richer feeling of happiness’ but is rather about a good and valued way of living that can produce happiness, vitality and wellness as its byproducts. Furthermore, eudaimonia is especially found in those manners of living and pursuits that reflect our positive human nature. Based on self-determination theory, we then suggest a number of ways of living that we see as good candidates for an eudaimonic way of living: pursuing intrinsic goals, living autonomously, being mindful, and being benevolent. We review evidence showing how these ways of living seem to lead to enhanced wellness for human beings, and accordingly we see these as modern answers for the Aristotelian call to find intrinsically worthwhile ways of living.


Happiness Well-being Eudaimonia Aristotle Self-determination theory 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Positive Psychology and EducationAustralian Catholic UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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