Aristotle has some interesting beliefs about success and fulfilment.
According to Ari (as I sometimes call him), to be your happiest self, you must live up to your fullest human potential – which means tapping into:
I’ll be describing both of these 2 functions in this short essay – and explaining why it’s essential to tap into 2 out of 2 if you want to feel truly fulfilled.
According to Aristotle, every single human has a shared universal function – a thing which only we humans can do – that no other animal on this planet is capable of doing.
(And no, it’s not opening up peanutbutter jars with the aid of our opposable thumbs!)
Aristotle was realistic about how often people use this “function” – and purposefully referenced the word “capable” in that phrase “capable of rational thought.”
Aristotle understood that unfortunately not everybody was tapping into this special human potential of rational thought.
As a result, not everybody was thinking clearly and making their highest level choices.
Aristotle believed it was absolutely essential to put in the effort of conscious thought – and live a conscious, awake life.
1. In order to be your fullest potential as a human being you need to use all your unique human capabilities.
2. When you’re putting in the effort of using “rational thought” – you’re able to gain your highest level of insight – which leads to making the wisest choices – which leads to acting with your highest core values – which leads to growing into your best self.For both these reasons — and more — Aristotle believed tapping into your universal function of “rational thought” was the first half of snagging the full motherlode of living a truly fulfilling life.
And that second half?
Ari believed that everybody has their special Specific Function – a unique thing which only you as an individual can do – and you can do it better than anyone else.
The specific function of a physician is to heal.
The specific function of a ship builder is to build great ships.
The specific function of an ice sculpturist is to make big, beautiful ice swans.
Because when you’re doing your Specific Function…
I know personally that I love writing books. Writing is what I’m uniquely meant to do for sure – my “Specific Function.”
I even lose track of time.
Plus, doing my Specific Function of writing keeps me feeling balanced, calm, sane.
I know that even when I’ve gone through what I call a challenging “Vortex Mode,” I’ve been able to stay happy and fulfilled, because I’ve kept myself busy writing.Aristotle would not be surprised to hear this about me and my writing.
Aristotle very much believed that when you’re doing what you are meant to do – the unique thing that you do best (either as your career – or even as a hobby) then you’re cashing in on being your fullest potential – and thereby you receive the awesome side effects of true fulfillment.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.
If you’re not doing your Specific Function, then you’re NOT cashing in on becoming your highest potential.
An oil trader, who amasses a great fortune, but is only doing habits that stroke his ego – but that don’t nurture his soul – this oil trader will ALWAYS have a harder time feeling truly fulfilled – no matter the wealth they amass.
Aristotle’s ancient philosophy matches exactly with a recent research study by Amy Wrzesniewski, Ph.D., professor of management and organizational behavior at New York University.
Amy found that people who reported the highest life satisfaction were those who viewed their work as a “calling” not a mere “job.”
Some people who viewed themselves as doing their “calling” (aka Specific Function) were administrative assistants or sanitation workers. Many of these people even did the exact activity as folks who described their work as merely a “job.”
Not only does what Aristotle believed match with what Amy reported, Ari’s philosophies also matched with the philosophies of Carl Jung, one of the key founders of modern psychology.
Furthermore, Carl believed that when we humans don’t have a positive “high-level spiritual quest” to pursue, we as a result develop a “low-level spiritual quest” – in the form of a negative addiction.
We over-pursue hedonistic things like: shopping, food, sex, co-dependent relationships, alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc..
Basically, Carl Jung thought “low-level spiritual quests” were the back-up plan for not having a “Specific Function.”
Although over-indulging in lots of hedonistic things like shopping, eating, drinking (etc) might appear at first glance like “true happiness” – these pleasures don’t add to a person’s self development – so thereby they never make a person feel truly happy and fulfilled.
Carl believe that you had to do a “high level spiritual quest” (aka: your Specific Function, aka your Calling).
I personally totally agree with Ari, Amy and Carl.
I believe the purpose of your life is to find and do the purpose of your life.
And I hope that this short essay served as a gentle nudge to remind you to go out there and do your Specific Function, your Calling, your High Level Spiritual Question, your Purpose.
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.