Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 13-39

First online:

Know Thyself and Become What You Are: A Eudaimonic Approach to Psychological Well-Being

  • Carol D. RyffAffiliated withInstitute on Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Burton H. SingerAffiliated withInstitute on Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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In an effort to strengthen conceptual foundations of eudaimonic well-being, key messages from Aristotle’s Nichomacean Ethics are revisited. Also examined are ideas about positive human functioning from existential and utilitarian philosophy as well as clinical, developmental, and humanistic psychology. How these perspectives were integrated to create a multidimensional model of psychological well-being [Ryff, C.D.: 1989a, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57(6), pp. 1069–1081] is described, and empirical evidence supporting the factorial validity of the model is briefly noted. Life course and socioeconomic correlates of well-being are examined to underscore the point that opportunities for eudaimonic well-being are not equally distributed. Biological correlates (cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, immune) of psychological well-being are also briefly noted as they suggest possible health benefits associated with living a life rich in purpose and meaning, continued growth, and quality ties to others. We conclude with future challenges in carrying the eudaimonic vision forward.


autonomy environmental mastery eudaimonia personal growth positive relations with others purpose in life self-acceptance