Aristotle and True Happiness



In his classic titled, “How to Read a Book”, Mortimer J. Adler summarizes the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s views on happiness. He says:

Aristotle’s definition of happiness is the happiness of the whole life both in the temporal and the eternal. Happiness is the whole of the good, not the highest of the good. It does not consist in self-perfection or self-improvement. For Aristotle, happiness is a quality of a whole life — whole not only in a temporal sense, but in all the aspects of a life. A happy man is a man who puts it all together and keeps it together. This is the controlling insight of Aristotle’s writings.

According to Merriam-Webster, happiness is: a state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience; it is the feeling of pleasure and enjoyment because of life.

If there is one thing that people desire in life, perhaps more than anything else, it is happiness. We know that money cannot buy happiness. Just recently, a Wall Street investor gave away his fortune of $800 million and then jumped from a building, committing suicide.

Numerous books, television shows, radio broadcasts, articles, and studies have been done on how people can be happy. Some people say that happiness comes from having everything you want. Others say happiness comes from being in loving relationships. Still others say happiness comes from doing good.

Aristotle, and other great philosophers of the past, spent much of their time thinking about the big questions of life. What is the meaning of life? What is man’s purpose in life? How can man be happy in life? Where did man come from? Where does man go after he dies?

I believe that on the issue of happiness, Aristotle might be on to something. Let’s take a look again at how Adler summarizes his views. He says, “happiness is the happiness of the whole life both in the temporal and the eternal.” In other words, it is impossible to be happy in this temporal life if you do not already have the guarantee of happiness in eternal life.

In other words, if you are going through this life constantly worried about what will happen after you die, you will never be happy and you will never be able to enjoy this life.

Today, allow me to show you how you can set your mind at ease about what will happen after you die so that you can enjoy your life right now. Or, as Aristotle might have put it, allow me to show you how you can have a happy eternal life so you can have a happy temporal life.

Of course, you already know that one day you will die. The Bible says, “it is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment.” After you die — after you leave this temporal life and head out into eternity — you will come face to face with God, your Creator. The Bible says that “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

At the end of our lives, we will stand before God, and we will be ushered into one of two eternal destinations — Heaven or Hell. Heaven is a place of eternal happiness and bliss. Hell is a place of eternal sadness, grief, and pain. Where we go depends on a choice that we make in life. Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction (Hell), and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life (Heaven), and few there be that find it.”

The wide, broad way is the way of earthly pleasure and sin — the things that we think will bring us happiness — but will eventually lead to eternal destruction in Hell. The straight and narrow way is the way of following God’s Son Jesus Christ. On this road, everything is not always easy, but the destination is eternal life in Heaven with God where we will be eternally happy.

Which road will you walk? I want to encourage you to get on the road that will lead to eternal happiness. I encourage you to follow Jesus Christ, and you will end up with happiness in this life because you are sure that you will have happiness for eternity. You can begin following Jesus Christ by giving your life to Him today by taking the following steps:

First, recognize that your sins have separated you from God. Our sins are the bad or wrong things that we do. In honest repentance, agree with God about your sinfulness and admit your need for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Second, realize that God loves you, and believe that his perfect Son, Jesus Christ, died for our sins — taking the punishment that we deserve. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, we do not have to go to Hell. We can be saved from that terrible place.

Third, accept Jesus Christ’s invitation to receive salvation by trusting him by faith to be your Savior. Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you want to open your heart and life to Jesus Christ and allow Him to bring peace between you and God, you can pray a short prayer to let God know about your decision. Repeat after me and mean it from your heart:

Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and I want to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Believe by faith. Share the faith. And keep the faith! God Bless You!