Happiness… or meaning

A friend sent me a note that I come back to every once in a while when I evaluate my own position, when I look at what I’m doing and how I’m living my life.

Think about happiness vs. meaning. Pursuing happiness alone just stresses people out while pursuing meaning gives them something to live for…and is actually healthier.
We all get so caught up in the Silicon Valley social scene and the next startup and being successful and pitching to everyone we meet and getting feedback, on and on. We chase happiness with weekend trips to Napa or Tahoe or other traveling or going to parties, but there is still that barely noticeably feeling of emptiness anyway. Yes, I had a great time, but why do I still feel that gnawing feeling something is missing? How can I fill the hole?
I think we spend our whole lives looking for meaning. A friend of mine is 50 and he’s still looking. My dad is still looking. Have you you found meaning?
– Anonymous

I moved to San Francisco precisely three years ago. I’ve lived the dream of starting a startup, failing my startup, going to burning man, become a freelance developer, join another startup, climb the beautiful California mountains and cycle over the Golden Gate bridge as my morning workout. There are things in this list that provided me with happiness but there are also things in this list that provide me with meaning.

As a teenager I was already extremely talented at understanding anything technical from smaller mechanical contraptions to computers and all the software running on it. Barely understanding english I tirelessly tinkered around with Suse Linux until I got it to work on my old donated computer. But soon enough I turned that hobby into a first job selling websites and then bigger and bigger projects. My affinity and love for technology is what ultimately led me to San Francisco and drives what I want to do in life: solve problems with the use of technology. As simple as that sounds (duh, any problem gets solved with technology these days…) it’s my source of meaning. A challenge, big or small, something that can be solved with an ingenious application of technology. Technology has the power to scale infinitely and a small change can have a direct impact on hundreds, thousands, if not millions.

So when I wake up in the morning and ask myself what I want to spend my day doing, what I should invest my energy in, I think about all these new technologies that are being thought of every day and how they can be used to solve something that is a today considered a burden but soon will just be something that happens magically.

What gives you meaning in life?

If you want to read few hundred extra words on happiness and meaning, I’d recommend you head over to this article from the Atlantic.