Choosing well-being, prosperity, and blessedness all year long.
My Word for 2022
Recently, a friend asked me to choose a word that would define the year 2022 for me. I told Madchen, my friend, that I would like to use the word that I’ve been using through the entire year of 2021: Eudaimonia.
Eudaimonia is a Greek word commonly translated as “happiness” or “welfare.” However, a more accurate translation has been proposed to be “human flourishing, prosperity, and blessedness.” That’s pretty good! It’s why I chose it for 2021.
I also looked up the word “flourishing”. Human flourishing is “developing rapidly.” Successfully. Thriving. It sounds like that would be handy, based on the speed of change that’s occurring in our lives. We could develop rapidly and successfully and be thriving. I love that.
I have some questions when I think about human flourishing, though. Isn’t it more of a choice versus a condition of being? Accepting eudaimonia and being eudaimonic. Truly taking joy in your life. Letting your experiences not impact your choice to flourish, to be successful, to thrive.
People Who Choose Eudaimonia
Throughout my life I’ve been presented with numerous examples of individuals who choose their happiness, joyfulness, and blessedness. Who are flourishing while at the same time facing great challenges.
My aunt from Pennsylvania comes to mind. She has had multiple surgeries to address her cancer, and yet when visiting with me at my parents’ home just a few weeks ago, she was as joyful a person–as filled with gratitude–as she has always been. She was thriving in the turbulence of her health. There was even an extra “umph” in her hugs. That makes sense as she faces her own mortality, but it was the only noticeable difference in this joyful human being.
Another extraordinary individual comes to mind. On May 5th 2022, we lost an American Hero: Justin Constantine, a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps and an attorney. He deployed to Iraq as a Civil Affairs officer attached to a Marine infantry battalion, part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. During his tour, he survived a gunshot wound to the head, though he faced a long and difficult recovery.
Justin was the keynote speaker for our “Tee It Up for the Troops” Wanakah Country Club 5th Annual golf event on September 11th of last year. He had just received permanent teeth replacements two weeks prior and approached his speaking challenge with a light heart and a sense of humor. In April of this year, I called to speak with Justin. He was a cancer survivor in addition to his combat wound, and was now facing a 2nd recurrence of the cancer and several procedures to address it.
He was experiencing some very real challenges, yet he was so grateful for the expressions of kindness he received from so many people. He spoke about how fortunate he was to be married to his lovely bride, to have made such great relationships during his years of service and in his civilian life. He encouraged me about the 2022 “Tee It Up for the Troops” golf event and said he looked forward to our next visit. Justin, so do I. Rest In Peace my friend.
We seem to be bombarded daily with stimulus: attempts to win our attention and to shape our opinion. Keeping the word eudaimonia in front of me (taped to my laptop at the center of the inner hinge) centers me on better choices. Finding Joy. Success. To Thrive and to Love. This helps me a great deal.
At times, I am a bit behind on the local and national “news.” I can appear detached from the matters affecting our community! However, my demeanor, my smile or kind words can cause others to momentarily forget what they were worked up about in the first place. I could probably remind them of what was troubling them, but why rob them of their eudaimonia?
Can a state of mind impact our ability to flourish, move us away from being eudaimonic and enjoying eudaimonia? And perhaps if we let it, does choosing not to be a constant student, not to be curious as a child is curious, lead us to stop developing? I think so.
The Wisdom of Others
I have friends who have shared with me that they don’t like to read. They completed high school and/or college and that’s where they left their student self. They get their “education” about what’s impacting the world from the TV and/or Social media. Scary! I am not quite certain how one can “flourish” with these sources feeding your mind.
I am grateful to authors like Monty Moran for Love is Free, Guac is Extra; Michael A. Singer for The Untethered Soul; Ray Dalio for Principles; Thomas Sowell for numerous books such as Intellectuals and Society; Gary Keller for The ONE Thing; Jill Bolte Taylor for My Stroke of Insight; and Jack Carr for his numerous fiction (but close to real life) novels. I love the richness of their experiences. The gift of their writing skills. I cannot put Jack Carr’s books down once started.
In addition to reading, there is the opportunity to learn from meeting people from diverse backgrounds: race, beliefs, opinions, etc. I, for one, am not always right and have benefited from meeting smart and wise people. Through conversations with them I have learned of my own misconceptions and knowledge gaps.
Being curious about others’ backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, opinions and behaviors has afforded me the opportunity to flourish within my professional and personal life. I have had some disappointments by being open to others and their differences. Yet none of them would be as damaging to my well-being as being judgmental and closed off to others.
The Curiosity of a Child
We should be as curious as a child. If you’re blessed with children or grandchildren, or perhaps great-grandchildren, sit quietly and watch them explore their life. And as an adult let’s emulate that. That’s true learning.
I think we make too many assumptions about what we know, and we miss the opportunity to learn what we don’t know to truly thrive. To develop as a child does develop, rapidly and successfully. Can we prosper without developing? I don’t think so. Can we truly achieve blessedness? Being blessed and recognizing that we are all blessed?
Can we prosper without developing? I am doubtful that one can prosper without developing today, largely due to the pace of change in all aspects of our lives. How does one age in a successful manner if they don’t develop their mind and body for inevitably getting older? Many of us know one or more individuals who have chosen not to keep pace with technology. They find it difficult to seek out certain services: medical, social, recreational and many more. Losing out on these services when needed can have severe consequences on one’s ability to prosper.
Deciding to not participate in one’s community or narrowly defining one’s community will have negative implications for prospering. Not reading. Not engaging. Approaching life through a narrow lens. Judging others. These are all poor choices and most assuredly stifle our development. I struggle to see how anyone can truly prosper without regular development.
Our Many Gifts
Can we do this without honoring the gifts that have already been bestowed upon us: innovation, change, new technologies, and opportunities to learn? Without honoring and showing gratitude for the gifts we have and receive along our journey?
God. Loved ones. Friends. Employees. Coworkers. Neighbors. Technology. Financial Capital. Our Homes. Our Assets. Yes, even Our Liabilities. Each is a part of our blessing and flourishing. Ignoring these, such as not honoring our liabilities or debts, will have a significant impact on our self-perception as well as the perceptions of others, in particular those we harmed through not owning our responsibilities.
Ignoring your gifts and blessings puts you at risk of never finding what you are searching for. Remaining unfulfilled. Tomorrow might always be better: the next job, the next neighborhood, the next friend, the next spouse, etc. Yet, tomorrow never comes as we live today.
You cannot learn if you cannot see the gifts right in front of you. You are too blind to learn.
Not just formal learning, but informal. It’s at our fingertips, whether it’s in video form, written, or digital. We have tons of opportunities to learn, we just have to seek them out.
Prosperity is the “state of being prosperous.” Can we achieve success and wealth without flourishing? By wealth, I do not mean financial capital. I mean the 12th-century definition of wealth where it was really about well-being. Can we get to this well-being, the “state of being comfortable, happy, or healthy?” Judging life positively? Feeling good doing it? Can we get there without well-being? No. Can we achieve true wealth without being eudaimonic, without human flourishing?
So I encourage each of you to choose your well-being. Choose to be as curious as a child is. Choose to be continuously learning. Do that and you will find eudaimonia. You will find your happiness. Your welfare. Your prosperity. Your blessedness. You’ll be a human flourishing.
May you all flourish well. I hope you enjoy the word eudaimonia. I hope you find your word to define your 2022 and perhaps for the rest of your life. God bless you all.