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Eudaimonia in Implant dentistry

After teaching implant dentistry since 1993 and repeatedly asking why?

We, dentists, tell ourselves that the ultimate rationale for our jobs, the purpose of our profession, our relationships with our patients and the conduct of our day to day activities is the pursuit of happiness to our patient’s lives and our lives. It sounds like an innocent enough idea, but excessive reliance on the term happiness means that we are frequently unfairly tempted to exit or at least heavily ignore a great many hardships but long-lasting results.

The Ancient Greeks resolutely did not believe that the purpose of life was to be happy; they proposed that it was to achieve Eudaimonia, a word which has been best translated as ‘fulfilment’.

What distinguishes happiness from fulfilment is pain. It is eminently possible to be fulfilled and – at the same time – under pressure, suffering physically or mentally, overburdened and, quite frequently, in a bad mood. This is a psychological nuance that the word happiness makes it hard to capture; for it is tricky to speak of being happy yet unhappy or happy yet suffering. However, such a combination is readily accommodated within the dignified and noble-sounding letters of Eudaimonia.

The proposed concept of Eudaimonia in Implant Dentistry encourages us to trust that many of our most worthwhile procedures will at points be failing with a disappointment and yet worth pursuing nevertheless. Properly exploring our professional talents, managing a long-life-learning schedule, keeping a relationship going with uncooperative patients, investing in a new system or engaging in a study circle… none of these goals is likely to leave us cheerful and grinning on a daily basis. They will, in fact, involve us in all manner of challenges that will deeply exhaust and enervate us, provoke and wound us. And yet we will perhaps, at the end of our week, still feel that the tasks were worth undertaking. Through them, we’ll have accessed something grander and more interesting than happiness: we’ll have made a difference.