Classical Wisdom: The achievement of happiness, according to Aristotle, is the end goal of every man. His reasoning is thus: All human activities are done in order to attain something that is good. We don’t do something because we think it will be bad for us. In addition, most of these activities are not the main objective, but rather a means to a higher end. Consequently, the activity that is an end in itself, writes the prolific philosopher, is the highest good, and that good is happiness. We aim at happiness for its own sake, not because it will achieve something else. Happiness, therefore, is our greatest mission.
Happiness used to be the ultimate goal of my life. It really makes sense to a rational mind. Humans are averse to pain and distress. Surely happiness and the occasional bit of pleasure are the gold-plated answer?
Meaning is a hard sell to younger people
A self-reflecting rational human does eventually get to the realisation that happiness is not the ultimate destination of life (to “die” happy), but rather a by-product. It should not be aimed for for its own sake.
The answer, instead, is meaning.
The world we live in today is full of things that cause happiness. It can be very hard to get enough silence and time to reflect to realise happiness is ephemeral. It is a drug that wears off. You can even build a tolerance for it, necessitating a new drug.
Meaning is a hard sell to younger people. It seems few of us are spared the experiential journey of self-discovery. Sage voices will advise them along the way, but the seed falls on the rocks. For now.
Due to the beguiling nature of media and the prolific distractions of the Internet, some people find meaning in one of many dead ends. The planet is full of “teachers” that will distract you with the veneer of meaning.
Ultimately, at the moment of your death, only one kind of life is going to have been the best you could have chosen to live.
Are you on that path? Yet?