When we think about desert landscape – what images come to mind? Most likely it will be the archetypal, undulating ocean of golden sand dunes with caravans of camels creating shadows in the early morning sun. Yet after a month touring Morocco’s desert region, we came to appreciate how many more personalities the desert has. An epic journey that has taught us to value and see the beauty in all things. In this blog, I share the desert landscapes we toured through and the hidden gems it revealed to us.
Eudaimonia – a condition of good spirit and living well.Greek philosophy
Eudaimonia stems from the Greeks, where philosophers held the space for our human good spirit and well-being under this rather beautiful phrase. Which got me thinking. Do we ever stop to examine what it means for us to flourish and, more importantly, do we engage in that flourishing or are we simply too busy wilting?
After 25 years in the Personal Development and Coaching industry (in my old life, life before travel), my conclusion is that sadly, we rarely take time to think about how to truly flourish and reach our full potential. So is this a time to stop and consider what this means to us? Are we missing a simple little trick?
If we are to fill Eudaimonia’s shoes in the way that the philosophers intended, then we must really give some colour to the opportunity that this beautiful word presents to us. Today’s modern world really does not really encourage Eudaimonia. We are caught up in a Rat Race of endless clock watching activities that have us rushing from one appointment or commitment to another. We simply take little heed of our well-being, let alone to how we can flourish.
Our entrapment in the materialistic world, keeps us hostage to the relentless hamster-wheel of work, striving for success and earning money to pay for our insatiable demands. Little is really talked about how we might flourish and how we invest in our potential and happiness.
What does it mean to flourish?
So whilst we’re at it, what does Eudaimonia mean with its rather elegant composition, so alien to our vocabulary? What does it mean to flourish? Let’s use an analogy to help us explore this.
A seed has huge potential and expectation in its fledgling state. It instinctively has a programme that genetically kicks into action at the appropriate time and under the most perfect of conditions. And so its route to flourishing has begun.
Underneath the surface at first, the seed begins to root itself downwards – paradoxically so that it can route itself upwards with strength and vitality. This is where its flourishing is conceived – not, strangely, in its final blossoming brilliance. Without strong roots the plant can not reach its full potential.
As the sapling begins to branch out beyond the dark world, a whole new set of factors begin to set it on its path to Eudaimonia. Nutrients, hydration, sunlight, avoidance of pests; to name just a few. As it forges its way forward, the young plant begins to grow in strength and resilience as it battles with the elements. And despite it all, the youngster branches out with a core of character and a stem of determination that begins to shape its identity. Leaves unfurl, flower buds emerge and new shoots begin to give the plant’s shape essence and possibility.
As it stretches out towards its ultimate goal of fruitfulness, we start to see the plant’s purpose playing out right in front of us. Bees pollinate, winds carry the seeds of future generations and birds feast on its abundance to carry its genes far and wide. Whilst its flower, fruit or foliage may be a visual indicator of its magnificence, its blossom is only one small element of the natural world’s Eudaimonia.
Beneath the superficial glow of petals, stature or autumnal fruit, a plant’s flourishing, stems right back to its seed and having the right conditions from which it can start out on its journey. Only when all those conditions are met, can it reach its potential and flourish, not only as a unique and individual plant, also as a member of the community to which it belongs, contributing to the longevity and survival of its species.
How does this relate to us?
This biological anecdote is all well and good, although how does it relate to us? What links can we draw from this to help us flourish in all our human-ness?
- Firstly, just like the seed, we need to make sure we have strong roots that give us a sense of grounding, so necessary in this crazy, superficial world. These roots mean understanding our values – the things that we hold as important in our lives and that shape the choices and decisions we make on a day to day basis. Values are like our moral compass, so we can tell if we’re on the right ‘rooted path.’ If we are taking action that doesn’t feel good to us deep within and that causes us anxiety or a general discomfort, then we are not honouring our roots and life really begins to suck and feel forced. When our inner most values are compromised, then how can we possibly flourish? So think about what values you hold dear; what truly matters to you and how closely aligned are your actions to those values. If you’re off kilter, then flourishing is hard against the constant battle of conflict.
- Next our flourishing depends upon the conditions that we have around us that either feed and fuel us or strip us of our goodness. So the essential ingredients of nourishing are our food, oils, vitamins and water being core to our well-being. Without them we develop deficiencies and dis-ease that result in us becoming ill. If not in the short-term, perhaps in the long-run these deficiencies creep up on us. So creating ‘good soil’ in which we can thrive is crucial to our flourishing and happiness. ‘What we put in, we will get out‘, as the old saying goes. So take some time to reflect on your soil. How nourishing is your diet, how well hydrated are you, do you look after yourself with exercise?
- As we evolve and are inevitably challenged by life’s ups and downs, like the plant, we must not be defined by the weather, drought or be distracted from our purpose – to be happy and fulfilled. The minute our focus moves or we procrastinate, then our essence begins to whither and flourish we most certainly do not. Holding onto the bigger picture of being well and happiness – is what we must set our sights on. Take time to reflect on our vision for happiness. Make it colourful, bright and meaningful so that we have a goal in mind.
- As we take on a positive and determined mindset, we begin to attract to us the people and events that help us to feel enriched and nourished. Whilst not all in the garden can ever be rosy, if we hold the vision of positivity then we are set on the right track. Believing in ourselves, holding our self-respect and being mindful of our behaviours all allow us to truly flourish with the essence of well-being.
Do we not, after all, have the right to fulfil our destiny, our life purpose and allow our potential to flourish? Is not Eudaimonia our right? Or is it something that we must work on and earn? When we harness our inner energy and desire for happiness, then our lives can begin to change and our ability to thrive emerges like the rising of the sun.
To this end, the energy and philosophy of Eudaimonia is available to each of us, we just need to tap into the resources that enable us to access happiness and thrive. So the bottom line to our flourishing is:
- Believe in our ability to flourish and reach our full potential – this is not selfish – our future generations depend upon it.
- Acknowledge and honour our values and make choices based on those values so that we are in alignment.
- Adopt a positive mental attitude that allows us to filter out negativity.
- Fuel ourselves with the right nutrients that create a healthy soil in which we can be well and full of vitality.
- Hold a vision of our well-being and keep this as a high priority as we make our choices and decisions.
If we follow these simple ideas and actions, then happiness is our destiny and we can fulfil our beautiful potential. For more articles on getting the best out of our happiness, click here. Kx