Linkedin Twitter  YouTube

Hedonism and Eudemonia

The word Hedonism comes from the Greek word “hedoné”. Which translates into immediate pleasure, enjoying yourself right now. We live in a perfect storm when it comes to giving room to our own hedonistic desires. For instance, research shows that we pick up our phones, on average, every four minutes. This is not a joke, every four minutes! That is 344 times per day. Often, we’re only satisfying our desires for a new “like” or watching a funny pet movie on Instagram. What we’re doing is: we’re looking for instant gratification.


Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an amount of hedonism in our lives. I can absolutely enjoy a fine dining meal every now and then. You can wake me up to go to a Michelin starred restaurant. I really enjoy watching a movie with the only goal being to amuse myself every so often.


However, since ancient times, Plato and Aristotle have taught us that striving for hedonism alone is very superficial, almost animalistic. On the other side of hedonism therefore is the higher life. Things such as helping other people, modesty, reliability, sobriety. Basically, it’s living in a good spirit. It’s what the Greek call Eudemonia.


It’s not advisable to only give room to hedonism in your life. But it’s also not advisable to only focus on eudemonia. Simply because almost none of us can keep up with only doing good. We would also miss out on so many wonderful things that life has to offer. So, how can we lead a life that balances our desire for hedonism, at times, and integrates eudemonia? Look at the matrix hereunder for some inspiration.


What can you do:

  1. Look at your calendar from last month.
  2. In hindsight, self-assess each activity: plot each activity in the matrix. How happy did it make you feel (hedonism)? How much meaning (eudemonia) did it give you?
  3. Discuss your answers with someone you trust.
  4. Agree where you want to adjust for next month.
  5. Repeat step 1 – 5 every month until you’ve created a new habit!


Current times make it challenging to keep a healthy balance. Distraction is everywhere! But it’s more important than ever that we not totally lose ourselves in our phones and missing out on creating a more meaningful and happy life for ourselves!


Hope this inspires.


Paul Donkers

Paul P.J. Donkers is a sought-after global business coach and management consultant. More about his work and projects can be found via and via

Paul and his partners work since decades with leaders to assist them create more value. If you want to have a confidential conversation, just reach out to us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

Share this column: