Saturday, January 19, 2013

Meaning vs Happiness

"Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself -- be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself -- by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love -- the more human he is."
Baumeister and his colleagues would agree that the pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves -- by devoting our lives to "giving" rather than "taking" -- we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.

An article in The Atlantic which includes the quote above caught my attention.  You may wish to take a look. 

This morning hubby and I were having a discussion about my eagerness to depart the prairie for points south.  I tried to explain that these winter days I am not feeling bored, but that I am lonely for like minded friends and their conversations about topics that are of importance to me.

Recently, I have been busy as secretary of our community's zoning and planning commission.  Happy describes my wakeful hours during the three months it took to complete the community bound research, writing, and approval process for this commission.

However, today the job is completed and I find my mind in search of other meaningful occupations.  Having purpose is essential to my sense of well being. Viktor Frankl's admonition to reach beyond the self in order to have a sense of value resonates.  The Atlantic's article reminded me of how little happiness I find in my solitary pursuits and how important community related activities are in creating a sense of well being.  Just thought I'd share.