What does a good life look like to you? For some, the phrase may conjure up images of a close-knit family, a steady job, and a Victorian house at the end of a street arched with oak trees. Others may focus on the goal of making a difference in the world, whether by working as a nurse or teacher, volunteering, or pouring their energy into environmental activism.
According to Aristotlean theory, the first kind of life would be classified as “hedonic”—one based on pleasure, comfort, stability, and strong social relationships. The second is “eudaimonic,” primarily concerned with the sense of purpose and fulfillment one gets by contributing to the greater good. The ancient Greek philosopher outlined these ideas in his treatise Nicomachean Ethics, and the psychological sciences have pretty much stuck them ever since when discussing the possibilities of what people might want out of their time on Earth.
But a new paper, published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Review, suggests there’s a another way to live a good life. It isn’t focused on happiness or purpose, but rather it’s a life that’s “psychologically rich.”