Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall

Tolstoy in Anna Kararina knows a thing about the Aristotelian school of subjective happiness thus: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its way.” Happiness is an antidote to depression out of hopelessness and envies out of disappointment in a purely subjective sense. It requires only self-will to choose the light and to follow it by constantly taming your brittle spirit via lifelong habit until you find a sense of why you are here in this world. If you doubt it as a cliche, then meet Aristotle, the student of Plato, who was the student of Socrates, and the private tutor of Alexander. 

Along with his great predecessor Socrates, Aristotle was a thinker who billeted Philosophy from the heavens at the houses of mortals so that she could show them how to cope with the harsh realities of the world that discombobulated a sense of purpose in life. Aristotle’s main concern was that people weighed heavily on the outward material success as a sign of well-being and a carte blanche to happiness, which would lead people astray with a sense of emptiness inside. For example, we can’t know if all those glossy selfies on Facebook and Instagram reflect the real lives of those uploading them. Or the lives of Hollywood stars who predicate on images and styles are not, in fact, worth admiration, as revealed in the recent defamation trial of Depp v. Heard, in which Depp’s braggadocio of recalcitrant drug and alcohol uses combined with alarmingly repulsive backstage personality, is simply disgraceful. On the contrary, the Uber drivers I have come across appear to be more satisfied with their lives, content with their independent work mode, and love of families. This Aristotle refers to a state of eudaimonia, a feeling of bliss, however small it is, because it comes from a higher sense of pleasantness from within. 

Of course, Aristotle’s way is not instant magic and may not show visible effects in one fell swoop, but it is a long-term remedy like a physical therapy that will show improvement. Aristotle’s way is not fanciful but practical with two recipes for the malady of hearts: (1) to keep everything in moderation, called the “Golden Mean”; and (2) training yourself continuously and actively to do the right thing like a habit. Aristotle reminds us that excellence is not an act but a habit. This happiness school parallels Emerson’s dictum that thinking is the function, and action is the functionary. So this is Aristotle’s simple but sophisticated stairways to your happiness, and I think it’s worth trying. No wonder his student Alexander became great. 

A view from the Window on a Snowing Day

snow-scene-in-paris-eugene-galien-laloue
Snow Scene In Paris Painting by Eugene Galien-Laloue courtesy of fineartamerica.com

 

Looking thru the window, what do I see?
Snowflakes softly falling down from heaven,
Smiling faces of little children,
Neighbors shoveling scoops of snow away.

-  'tis in one scene of Winter Play.

Thinking to myself, is everyone happy?
Doing what they've been doing thus far,
Fulfilling demands placed upon their 
life is a surety of simple security?

-  'tis in a script of Life Play.

Lost

my poem

I can’t see where Life is heading for now alone
With her head wondering in the sky clouded
Far and away from her once beloved Home,
A glass castle of Beauty forever vanished.

I want to know… Does she know she is lost,
Deluded by the wrong hands of Destiny,
Leading her to the Paths of Disappointment
To see her shedding veils of tears in Eternity?