Happiness versus Meaning


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“Still, some people are high in one and low in the other, and there are traits that are related to happiness but not to meaning, and vice versa.

Here are four differences.

  1. Health, feeling good, and making money are all related to happiness but have little or no relationship to meaning.
  2. The more people report thinking about the past and the future, the more meaning they say they have in their lives—and the less happy they are.
  3. Finding your life to be relatively easy is related to more happiness; finding your life to be difficult is related to less happiness and, though it is a small effect, more meaning. Do you consider your life a struggle? You’re likely to be less happy but more likely to see your life as more meaningful. Are you under stress? More meaning and less happiness. What about worrying? Again, more meaning and less happiness. These findings mesh with a study we’ll discuss in more detail later, in which those who reported the greatest amount of meaning in their jobs included social workers and members of the clergy—difficult jobs that don’t make much money and that involve dealing with complicated and stressful situations.
  4. The researchers asked, without any elaboration, this simple question: “Are you a giver or a taker?” The effects are small here, but there is a pattern: Givers have more meaning in their lives; takers have less. Takers have more happiness; givers have less.
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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by rudid96 on April 26, 2022 at 3:57 pm

    Yesterday, I listened to a podcast with Michel Singer. He spoke about the phenomenon of people allowing their minds to ruin their lives. My takeaway from his message was that people get stuck by defining the importance and meaning of their thoughts. He suggested that we’re all capable of happier living if we focus on impermanence and reframing. Hmmm… sounds nice but at least for me, long term hasn’t been doable.

  2. Well said Rudid96

    I agree with what you said

    It’s complex and just staying present does not change the way our brains are wired or the danger we sense

    It just illustrates how different we are from regular people

    Joining a group you see how different we are

  3. That’s the therapeutic narrative

    Does not sound like anyone on this blog

    I have reframed, done internal family system, cbt, Acceptance and commitment therapy plus a decade-plus of dedicated meditation

    If reframe was the answer my blog would have no followers no responses

  4. Posted by rudid96 on April 26, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve done volunteer teaching for many years now. Prior to the Pandemic, it was in person. It occurred to me today, how much energy I expend putting on my persona. There’s always inner separateness. There’s a felt sense of hiding as if I’m publically marked from the abuse. Can they ‘see it?’

  5. Yes I ran a mindfulness group

    It was like playing pro baseball, put on the uniform and you transform into someone else for a couple of hours only to retreat into our cacoon

    It did not end well

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