Eudaimonia

Another word for the Genius spirit comes from the Latin word daemon, literally meaning spirit. To further this translation and meaning, the Greek form of the word isdaimon, which translates as a guiding spirit, genius, or giver of fortune.  It was only later that subsequent religious writers changed the spelling to demon, and redefining the word for one political reason or another as an evil fiend or devil.

So for the purpose of uncovering our Genius, we will need to expand our understanding of this guardian/gift giving indwelling spirit not as some foreign entity inhabiting our bodies against our will, but as a naturally occurring feature in each and every human being.

The Greeks used another word; eudaimonia. In contemporary definitions, eudaimonia simply can be explained as happiness. However, eudaimonia is better defined as “being in the state of having a good indwelling spirit”, or a good genius. Tracing this idea further back in history, Aristotle, while writing his Nichomachean Ethics actually originally termed eudaimonia as the highest good in man. The highest good, according to Aristotle wasn’t in fact just happiness, feeling great, or satisfying our appetites. These are circumstantial states that can come and go. Aristotle thought that the highest good is the virtuous striving to achieve what is the best in us. Carol Ryff, in her research on psychological wellbeing and aging explains Aristotle’s eudaimonia in this way:

“Eudaimonia thus captured the essence of the two great Greek imperatives: first, to know yourself, and second, to become what you are. The latter requires discerning one’s unique talents (the daimon or Genius that resides in us all), and then working to bring them to reality.”

At midlife, if we haven’t yet moved into the state of bringing our inbuilt Genius talents to a full expression, we feel the uncomfortable yearnings of a life not fully lived.

Remember that our Genius qualities were born with us. As much as it seems that we have to stuggle to bring them out, their natural tendency is to want to be expressed and brought out into the world. Finding these inbuilt qualities requires a cooperation with them instead of an individual struggle to create a more expressive life. In other words, the promise of our fulfillment is already ninety nine percent complete! The last percent is simply our allowing the expression to take place; by our participation in a natural process wherein we look inside of our consciousness with intent and attention and invite our Genius to become expressive. Our attentive participation is the activating ingredient to this process. It is what brings the integration of our Genius talents and our waking consciousness.

Our work then is to remove the psychological barriers to this integration by recognizing that the symptoms of feeling confused and unfulfilled at midlife are messages from our Genius to listen to its genuine callings to us and give them outward expression.

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