This is a rendition of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics for contemporary readers. Brief, understandable pieces with a short practice to integrate the wisdom into your life. No philosophical background necessary.
How can we call someone happy never knowing what will happen to them next?
Solon once remarked that none can be considered happy until their death. Clearly the point of this statement is not that the dead alone are happy. This would be a bizarre statement, as happiness is an activity, and the dead are at least slightly less active than the living. Solon himself certainly did not mean to say that, rather only that we can safely deem a human blessed once he is removed from the possibility of misfortunes.
Many people, like Solon, wish to say that happiness is something everlasting and not subject to reversals. This is why people are careful in deeming a person happy; we are blind to the future, and hence fearful of passing judgment, lest their fortune change.
But isn’t it strange if while a man is happy we do not attribute to him what is clearly his?
Is a sword any less sharp because it may become dull?
It’s not enough to read. You must clothe these ideas in your concrete reality. The following practice will bring some of this wisdom into your life.
Be serious about living well.
Identify a recent event that was good.
Meditate that the event’s transient nature does not diminish its good and may in fact highlight it.
טוב יום המוות מיום היוולדו. It's universal human wisdom.
There is nothing to be too happy or too sad about - it will all pass and is not in our hands or at least this is what I think.