Eudaemonia means to experience prosperity, wealth or happiness. Carl Jung believed that we should cherish all of this within ourselves. To do that, he says, you must first connect to your own daemon. A daemon is an inner spirit, an archetype that guides your unconscious passions and motivations. It is your essence. You should listen to it more often.
If there’s one thing we see in abundance almost everywhere (in bookstores, on social media, and even in fashion), it’s the need to be happy. All the commercials we see on television tell us that if we drink a certain soda or have a certain phone, we will experience new and wonderful feelings. Today there is a view of happiness that almost has a compelling tone.
In this postmodern world, the feeling that being happy is obligatory leads, ironically, to being unhappy. For example, you should remember what Nassim Nicholas Taleb says in his book The Black Swann : we all still believe the world is full of white swans. We think that putting in enough effort is all we need to do. Because then everything that was promised to us when we were children will become reality.
But according to Taleb, our world is incredibly complicated. In fact, it’s so complicated that we don’t know how to react when we see a black swan. We are vulnerable because we don’t know how to deal with the unexpected or the uncertain. So we will never find happiness if we keep looking outside of ourselves. We must strengthen our character, our daemon, just as Carl Jung himself said.
Eudaemonia and the importance of getting to know yourself
One of the people who inherited Carl Jung’s estate was James Hillman. This Jungian analyst was the one who dug most deeply into the concept of the archetypes and more concretely into the idea of the daemon.
In his book The Soul’s Code he reminds us of the importance of connecting with your inner spirit or “daemon” to have a full and truly happy life. To better understand this interesting theory, let’s take a closer look at the contents of Professor Hillman’s book.
What is a daemon?
- Daemon comes from Greek and means demon. But it has no negative connotation. Actually, it symbolizes the highest essence of a human being. In Aristotle’s ethics, the daemon stood for virtue and wisdom in the most practical sense.
- Carl Jung has stated that the daemon lives in our unconscious mind. He guides our actions, motivates us, whispers ideas, inspires us and gives voice to our intuition. But modern society and the pace of life distract us. So it often happens that you remove yourself from this inner voice.
- Our upbringing steers us in the direction of conformity. The labor market shows no appreciation for originality. It reduces the chance of bringing out your inner soul. But this entity is full of life force. He has enormous potential. What he wants above all else is to free up his creative power. However, we often lack the courage to give him the space he needs.
The daemon and eudaemonia: a matter of courage
dr. James Hillman believes that few things in life are more meaningful than learning to listen to that life force, that magical, colorful entity that lives within our motivation. It is like what is written in the temple of Apollo at Delphi: “Know thyself.”
- When you stop looking outside yourself for answers and stop worrying about what others want, you will finally find yourself on the road that leads to knowing yourself. Only then can you get in touch with your daemon.
- But it’s not always easy to embrace eudaemonia. Sometimes your daemon wants something that the people around you don’t understand. A lawyer may no longer want to practice law. Because maybe he actually wants to be an artist. Perhaps that famous artist no longer wants to create things. Because his daemon asks him to do humanitarian work. Your daemon may want you to be more independent, to find your own freedoms that you don’t dare ask for.
Eudaemonia requires a lot of courage. Your daemon is restless and craves new experiences. As a result, if you don’t listen to that inner voice, your daemon will punish you. Carl Jung reminds us of something. If you are not able to listen to the needs of the daemon , your soul will get sick. Why? Because going against your desires and motives makes you unhappy.
How can you learn eudaemonia?
You know that nothing is more crucial than self-knowledge. Connecting with your desires, your essence, your identity and your personal values is one way to embrace and recognize your daemon . But it’s not enough just to say “I know you’re there.” You also have to free it to create and express itself.
Developing authentic eudaemonia will mean making changes. It means that you put aside what the outside world imposes on you. You must learn to create your own reality. It is important that you are fully aware of the complexity of your environment, where uncertainty and unforeseen difficulties are constantly present.
Your daemon wants things. But to achieve eudaemonia you have to deal with situations where it is not so easy to express yourself.
With this in mind, it’s also a good idea to remember what Immanuel Kant once said: ” If you want to be happy, you have to learn to be smart.” In other words, you have to choose the best methods to increase your well-being. It is very clear that the means and the end are not easy.
But one advantage is that you always have the Jungian therapy that can help you. The goal of this therapeutic approach is to bring you closer to eudaemonia. Because it is meant to help you see your uniqueness and recognize the power to be happy in your own way.