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On the Road to Eudaimonia

I’m a reasonably bookish person, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across a word I’d never seen before- not once, not twice, but three times- in the span of a few short weeks. Call it luck, call it fate, call it a verbal trifecta. But when anything jumps out at me three times, I like to pay attention.

It started when I was turning the pages of Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s book “Life Reimagined, The Science Art and Opportunity of Midlife”. It’s a kind of guidebook-slash-reality-check for those at a certain stage of life, pondering the next turn in the road. For those lucky souls programmed in the womb to know their life’s purpose, well, we’re happy for you. Really. And if you’re worth your salt, you’re probably not even reading this, but out enjoying the ride.

For the rest of us (and quite frankly I suspect most of us), we’re stumbling around a bit, sifting through the layers of dust and debris, looking for clues…who we were, who we are now and where the heck we’re going next.

Photo by Riley Deering (Crossroads in Sitka Workshop)

Photo by Riley Deering (Crossroads in Sitka Workshop)

Lest you feel alone in this pursuit, rest assured the ancient Greeks tread this path long before you or I. And lucky for us, they left some signposts along the way to help navigate this tricky territory.

It turns out Aristotle had a word that expresses what is arguably one of the greatest challenges in human life, Eudaimonia. Euda…what? Eudaimonia is quite simply the idea of human flourishing, living a complete and flourishing life.

One way to achieve Eudaimonia is to pursue long-term goals that give meaning to life. It means figuring out your purpose in life (and this next part is key)…. given your unique set of talents and capacities. That’s right, your unique skills and how you choose to use them.

Photo by Nancy Chakrin (Crossroads in Sitka Workshop)

Photo by Nancy Chakrin (Crossroads in Sitka Workshop)

If you’re perusing the Crossroads website, chances are you’re a photographer. You may have some decent skills and more than likely a unique vision. Chances are you’ve been slowly and quietly honing your craft over years-a workshop here, a presentation there. Taking time to work, raise a family, send kids off to college. Maybe you’re at an age when the drumbeat of purpose becomes harder to ignore. Or maybe you’re just launching yourself into life, looking for a way to channel your newfound passion and energy. The only question remaining now is….how do you plan to use your talents?

We built Crossroads around just this conundrum. How do you generate a greater sense of purpose in your photography? Creating images that support the causes and missions you believe in can be a great start on the road to Eudaimonia. Finding worthy non-profit organizations and offering your time, your skills, and your images may be the first step towards finding new meaning and purpose, one step towards your complete and flourishing life.

And if you still have doubts about the benefits of Eudaimonia, well, Barbara says it best:

“It turns out that finding a deeper purpose and pursuing it carries an unexpected bonus: It makes you robust. Dozens of new studies show that if you have a reason to get up in the morning, you will live longer, you will enjoy a happier old age, you will better retain your memory, and you will be more likely to not only survive the scary diagnosis, but thrive. Seriously. Purpose in life is simply more important than education or wealth in determining long-term health and happiness.”

There you have it.  Road trip anyone?

~Ruth

Photo by Jennifer Crouch (Crossroads in Sitka Workshop) in partnership with the Sitka Conservation Society

Photo by Jennifer Crouch (Crossroads in Sitka Workshop) in partnership with the Sitka Conservation Society

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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