The Pursuit of Meaning, Not Happiness is What Makes Life Incredibly Better
Thomas Oppong

To stir up some debate on this, I have to say I respectfully disagree with a lot of the content of this post.

Certainly, feeling valued, and being in charge of your own work, can bring a sense of fulfilment. However, the message in this post hinges on the idea that productivity = fulfilment. What you’re describing is the cornerstone of capitalism, it’s what drives people to work longer hours and buy more things in pursuit of happiness. Our culture puts extremely high value on productivity; this is why poorly-paid people work very hard to line the pockets of the wealthy. And also why people who are less able to “add value”; the mentally unwell, the disabled, the less privileged; have lower status in society.

In other cultures, and throughout history, productivity or “adding value” is not considered the root to happiness. Learning, caring, loving, exercise of the mind or body, and creativity are deemed equally valuable.

“ Pursuing meaning, however, makes you feel good about yourself, because you are pursuing something bigger than yourself. Something that makes you create value.”

This is what oppressed people have been told for eons. Arbeit macht frei, anyone?

“Many historic innovators of our time started something with the undying belief that they can create something of great and lasting significance, what others are not willing or able to. And guess what, they found fulfilment in the process, no matter how small the pursuit was.”

Oh really, have you spoken to many of them? Here are just a few who perhaps did not find fulfilment! Invention and entrepreneurship is driven by dissatisfaction. And ask any successful person whether they are happy now, and they will say there is more work to be done.

My message is that finding what makes you happy, WHATEVER it is, is fine, and that if you are not “adding value” from a work or societal perspective, then that’s okay. It is more important to be at peace in this short life than it is to feel bad about not always being productive.