Aristotle On Happiness: Quotes, Thoughts & Philosophy

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There is no doubt that Aristotle was an incredibly smart fellow. In fact, his quotes have managed to withstand the test of time. There is a good chance that you’ve read or heard a quote from Aristotle at some point or another. You might not have realized it at the time though.

Nevertheless, Aristotle remains just as prominent today as he was in the past. You should also know that Aristotle had a lot to say about happiness. Reading Aristotle on happiness can be a very eye-opening experience.

Within this guide, you’re going to learn a little more about Aristotle and his more impactful quotes about happiness.

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Who is Aristotle?

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist. He was born in Stagira just north of Greece, and lived from 384 to 322 BC. Alongside Plato, he is considered as one of the Fathers of Western Philosophy.

Although he lived quite some time ago, he has managed to make a lasting impact. In fact, this philosopher is arguably more famous today than he was when he was alive.

Aristotle studied and analyzed a lot of subjects over the years. At one point, he took the time to study humans and happiness. His findings are really astonishing. So, what does this philosopher think about happiness? Does he believe that people can really achieve ultimate happiness?

Aristotle’s Search

Aristotle was an individual who liked to study a wide assortment of topics. At one point, he decided to find out what was the supreme good for man. He wanted to know exactly what was the best way to lead life. He also aimed to find out what would give someone meaning in life.

Specifically, he looked at purpose. Take a knife for example. A knife is specifically designed to cut through things. It can cut through leaves, limbs, foods and other items. Nevertheless, it is always going to be used for cutting purposes.

Medicine is designed to help people feel better or to treat some disease. There is a clear-cut purpose for these objects. So his question was, is there a clear-cut purpose for human beings?

Goals And Goals

Eventually, it was discovered that some goals would actually depend on other goals. And of course, those goals would depend on different goals entirely. For instance, you might have a goal of becoming a police officer in the future. There are numerous goals that you’re going to need to complete before you can accomplish the final goal of becoming a police officer.

You’ll need to get into physical shape. You’ll need to complete school. Then, you’ll need to apply to become a police officer. It is never possible to jump to the finish line.

You always have to jump through several hoops before you can achieve your ultimate goals. Aristotle was brilliant and he knew that it would be impossible to achieve big goals so easily.

Supreme Happiness

Aristotle also went on to clarify supreme happiness. What is the goal at hand? Is it an end in and of itself?

If so, Aristotle believed that this would be a supreme good for the individual in question. Finding natural happiness is not universal.

Some people will find happiness much differently than other people. Each person’s supreme happiness is different.

For instance, some people will find supreme happiness in sitting at home and watching television. Others prefer traveling the world. With this being said, people need to find out what they aim to achieve in life.

If you do not, you’re never going to be able to get ahead.

Once you’ve determined what your end goal is going to be, you’ll eventually be able to put together a game plan to achieve that end goal. Without identifying that goal, you’ll never even cross the starting line.

Happiness For Aristotle

It is true that everyone has a different opinion on happiness. Aristotle’s views on happiness are likely different from your viewpoint. This is what makes it so fascinating to read Aristotle’s thoughts on happiness.

Aristotle believed that happiness was acquired by understanding the precise function of a thing so one can understand its essence.

It is impossible to understand the function of a nurse unless you fully understand what it means to be a nurse with the appropriate level of skill. Humans are little different from objects though. They are like plants because they need nourishment.

They’re also very similar to animals because they have sentience. Their sentience is considered their distinctive function. This is something that is not always clear.

In many cases, their distinctive function is often their ability to reason, according to Aristotle.

A Human’s Supreme Happiness

So, what is a human’s supreme happiness or supreme good? Well, Aristotle believes that it is to lead a life that gives them the ability to use and perfect your reasoning.

That would be in accordance with reason. According to Aristotle, happiness is far different from amusement and pleasure. Both of these are enjoyed by animals.

Happiness is considered something far different.

According to Aristotle, happiness would not be a state. Instead, it would be an activity.

In fact, happiness would be very similar to goodness and virtue. Both are enduring and profound. Most people do not believe this way.

Nevertheless, most people are not Aristotle either.

Good And Bad Fortune

Aristotle acknowledges that people experience different events. After all, some people are very fortunate, while others are not.

He also believed that good and bad fortune could ultimately play a role in determining ultimate happiness. He admitted that happiness could actually be impacted by many different factors, including a person’s place in society, finances, career, relationships, and many other material circumstances.

Nevertheless, he believed that living life to the fullest in accordance with the essential nature of rational beings could ultimately make someone happy and satisfied.

Therefore, Aristotle believed that people could be very happy despite having material things.

Even with little money, poor looks and a low status in society, people would be able to remain happy. This is something that Aristotle believed through and through.

Good For Man Is Self-Sufficient

Aristotle wrote that that good for man was self-sufficient. What exactly does that mean?

He means that good is primarily desired for one’s own self. The good is a part of a teleological system, which involves many actions. The final good that is obtainable by humans is happiness.

Happiness is an end of the action and that makes self-sufficient.

Happiness And The Settling Of The Soul

Aristotle has had some amazing quotes on happiness. Here’s one of our favorites:

“Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.”

The meaning of the quote is often difficult to understand. Nevertheless, it is clear that Aristotle thought everyone would be able to find happiness. They just need to find that sweet spot and settle into it comfortably.

He also went on to claim that “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life. The whole aim and end of human existence”.

Suffice to say, Aristotle thought that people lived to be happy. They strived to be happy and achieving that happiness was their final end. He would also say that “Happiness is activity” and “Happiness depends upon ourselves”.

These quotes are very true. After all, it required activity to truly be happy. And, everyone must find their own happiness. Some people are happy when they’re alone. Others find more happiness when they’re out with their friends or relatives.

Therefore, happiness really does depend on the individual in question. Nevertheless, Aristotle thought that everyone would be able to find happiness if they looked hard enough.

Aristotle Quotes on Happiness

Below are some of the greatest Aristotle quotes on happiness:

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.”

“Happiness is activity.”

“…the function of man is to live a certain kind of life, and this activity implies a rational principle, and the function of a good man is the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed it is performed in accord with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, then happiness turns out to be an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.”

“If happiness is activity in accordance with excellence, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest excellence.”

“He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life.”


At the end of the day, Aristotle was a brilliant mind. A lot can be learned by reading the words of wisdom from this man. By following his advice, it might be possible for pretty much everyone to find happiness.

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About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

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