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The Mind of the “Happy Warrior”: Eudaimonia, Awe, and the Search for Meaning in Life

Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)

Abstract

The eudaimonic approach to well-being proposes that, in contrast to simply seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, a good life involves acting with excellence on one’s personal life projects. Our research suggests that beyond being subjectively pleasant, positive emotions promote the accomplishment of important life goals, and can therefore facilitate meeting our eudaimonic needs. Because eudaimonia is inherently multi-faceted, different positive emotions may support different aspects of eudaimonic well-being. As an example, we propose that one positive emotion, awe, may promote a particular aspect of eudaimonia: the sense of having meaning in life, a personal, coherent conceptual framework that helps individuals define who they are and what is most important to them. Existential philosophy emphasizes the role of conscious analysis in developing a meaning framework, and we suggest that powerful awe experiences facilitate a cognitive and motivational mindset that is especially conducive to this personal work. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Well-being
  • Eudaimonia
  • Aristotle
  • Philosophy

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Danvers, A.F., O’Neil, M.J., Shiota, M.N. (2016). The Mind of the “Happy Warrior”: Eudaimonia, Awe, and the Search for Meaning in Life. In: Vittersø, J. (eds) Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being. International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42445-3_21

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