Seek Meaning or Happiness?
I heard someone once ask –
“What if You were to live your life only to discover that it was wrong ?”
That … “Part of life … knowing what gives your life worth , knowing what it is that gives you a “sense of purpose?”
“What is your purpose … what is the meaning of your life?”
Well, that is a very powerful statement: “… only to discover that it (your life ) was wrong!”
Who is the judge here?
Begs the question that you are not living your life for yourself but living a life to please others. Who is the judge here? Your work colleagues? Your neighbours? Your family?
Should we Seek meaning or happiness?
Living your life with “meaning” can come at the expense of your happiness.
There is definitely a positive correlation/overlap between your level of happiness and the sense of happiness you feel in life.
But research (& common sense) shows that it is only about 50%.
The balance of that comes from the individual – the individual’s character.
There are various studies done on this “non-overlapping “ parts between meaning and happiness.
They did it ( studies ) both ways : –
They studied meaning, while controlling for happiness and studied happiness while controlling for meaning.
Here’s what they’ve found – they found the Ghosts inside of YOU – meaning and happiness are two sides of the same coin.
Two sides of the same coin …
Happiness & meaning are effectively two sides of the same coin. For a number of reasons –
1) Is getting what you NEED more important than getting what you WANT? How does that affect your perception of meaning/happiness? Why? Are we suffering from a case of increasing GREED OVER NEED?
2) With respect to time, Happiness is more about the “now “ or present moment … so you could be very happy now but have less meaning in your life. Meaningful memories, however, goes across time. Memories however, gets deleted, distorted or destroyed over time…. From diseases of the brain 🧠 like Alzheimer’s.
3) The extent of a person’s social connections and authenticity in those relationships is key to a person’s perception of happiness & meaningfulness. A person may be happy (be a taker) and seek more meaning (giver) or vice versa.
Connecting/Belonging allows you to have both – happiness (getting from others) … & meaning (giving to others)
More authentic social connections help you stay alive.
4) The circumstances & difficulties a person is born with or faces in life has a big bearing on perception of happiness & meaning. Being born in certain countries (USA comes with limitless advantages) but from a developing country like Somalia, has huge disadvantages.
5) Awareness of SELF: issues of personal identity/culture are very important to a person (meaningful) … even at the expense of unhappiness (put in jail or killed). For many people, expressing the SELF is more about meaning, not happiness.
Living a Life of Significance points to the Alpha and the Omega…
To me, the answer to all these questions… these fears … lies the most important relationship we can ever have.
“What relationship is this?” You may ask
You see, the world is filled with threats and constant reminders of our inadequate-ness and that we don’t “quite measure up to some predetermined standard).
Some of these threats – whether it be imagined or real – targets our safety, to our sense of being ok ( heavily influenced by our sense of worth” and for many, very low self-esteem).
Well, I believe the Answer to all these fears/threats lies in the most important relationship we can have that gives each and every believer, the ultimate security.
This relationship gives the only true safety. I amReferring to being in the RIGHT relationship with the God… the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.
Yes, that is correct… it is our relationship (if you’re a Christian), with God.
He was there before the beginning. He has no end. He has seen and suffered all. He has known fears.
He, alone, sets us FREE.
Focus on things that are ETERNAL.
As I said in a previous blogs, I am not genuinely afraid about anything – except for what the writer Henry Thoreau said, of coming to the end of life and finding that I have not lived.
A lot or people say something to this effect these days, but they think “having lived “ means having a lot of adventures or a lot of fun or a lot or money.
I DO NOT think that has much to do with it.
I believe that we should strive to Fill our lives with things that LAST FOREVER… things that are ETERNAL.
Living a life of significance or purpose comes from filling your life with things that last forever. You need to focus on things that are eternal.
That’s why the usual things people seek time and time again … to guarantee importance in their lives – money, fame, power – don’t work very well. They ALL have something on common: they all come to an end, often during the person’s life and certainly thereafter.
So, “what are these things that last forever … that are eternal?” You may be wondering.
Here are a few – care, compassion, justice, mercy, trust, forgiveness, grace… can you think of others?
Truth also lasts forever, for example.
These are all aspects of the greatest value of all – LOVE.
Without it, nothing else matters. And I believe the source and perfect giver of love is God.
To live a life of meaning and purpose, first SEEK TO GIVE …
I believe that to live a life that matters … a life that counts, one has seek to fill it with ACTIONS and ATTITUDES … towards making someone’s life better. That act alone, is one that is eternal.
The more YOU GIVE… the more you RECEIVE (in terms of meaning/purpose/matter). A life of significance/purpose will usually have lots of people in it.
Because, my tribe-within-a-tribe members … because people are the only part of this world which Will LAST FOREVER.
So, what have you done for someone lately? Without expecting a “favour in return” … or “reciprocal action?”
“Imagine at your death bed, the ghost or your dreams … the ideas , the abilities, the talents … given to you by life but for whatever reasons, you never pursued those dreams. You never acted on those ideas , you never used those gifts … those talents .
And there they are standing with ANGRY eyes … that we came to you.
“What dreams.. talents… ideas … have you not realised? Are you content with the life you had?” God asks
It would be ideal, at least in my eyes, that you reply –
“Yes, Lord, I have lived a life that I am very content with. I thank you for the gifts you have given me. I have used them as best I could (but probably not as optimal as I could have.
I give thanks to you, my God. Please accept my soul into your consciousness.”
Your soul is an accumulation of all that the ghosts inside of you had experienced to that point …
In the air … in the heavens.
Is that “the end?” Is it … ETERNAL END?