The Pursuit of Meaning, Not Happiness is What Makes Life Incredibly Better
You don’t become happy by pursuing happiness. You become happy by living a life that means something. — Harold S. Kushner
If you are feeling unmotivated, unsure of yourself, aimless, or can’t lose yourself into your present work, you’re not alone — many people are in the same boat.
Tom Path, author of “Are You Fully Charged” said “The odds of being completely engaged in your job increases by 250% if you work on meaningful projects each day.”
Today, right now, is the best time ever to choose to do something that truly matters. Something meaningful to you. That ONE thing that makes you create value that means a lot to you. Something you alone can share with the rest of us. Something you are capable of doing but continue to put off because you think you are not ready.
You have everything you need to, at least try. The world needs more creators, not consumers. It has never been easier to decide to be responsible for your own work, for the change you expect.
The most important obvious benefit of pursuing your amazing work is the fulfilment it brings. When you begin to do “actual work’ that means the world to you, everything falls in place.
Happiness is the wrong pursuit!
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” — Helen Keller
A lot of people’s absolute idea of happiness is terribly skewed. In fact, you won’t be as happy in life as you expect if you got a promotion tomorrow or even get 15% increment in salary. You will be ‘glad” in the short-term, but in the long-term, you won’t necessarily be “happy”. According to one research study, doubling your income only increases happiness by 9 percent. That’s sad.
In a research, Iris Mauss, a social psychologist at U.C. Berkeley who studies the possible negative consequences of seeking happiness, found that people who place a great value on being happy actually have more mental health problems, including, sadly enough, depression.
The more value you place on your own happiness, the more likely you are to feel lonely. Don’t spend your valuable time seeking your own happiness. You will end up feeling more shallow than you can ever imagine.
Pursuing meaning, however, makes you feel good about yourself, because you are pursuing something bigger than yourself. Something that makes you create value. When you understand how you contribute value, you will attach meaning to even the smallest thing you do and “connect the dots between your efforts and a larger purpose.” The most motivating choices are ones that align with your “why” and your purpose.
Christine L. Carter Ph.D., a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and author of “The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Work and Home” explains:
“Compelling research indicates that the pursuit of happiness — when our definition of happiness is synonymous with pleasure and easy gratification — won’t ultimately bring us deeper feelings of fulfillment; it won’t allow us to live in our sweet spot. Although we claim that the “pursuit of happiness” is our inalienable right and the primary driver of the human race, we humans do better pursuing fulfillment and meaning — creating lives that generate the feeling that we matter.”
One of the best ways to derive fulfilment as an employee is to work on projects you initiate. Something you are responsible for. If you can take more initiates and implement a lot of your own ideas, instead of reacting to actions others expect of you, your chances of finding fulfilment could double. For many people, reactionary actions take up more of their day’s work than actions they initiate.
Start a journey that matters
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain
WHY you pursue something is as equally important as WHAT you pursue. Start something greater than yourself. Something you truly believe in. Your pursuit should be meaningful to you. Purpose eases the pain of the long hours and gives you the fortitude to fail. It makes menial tasks meaningful adn even filfilling.
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.
When you seek purpose, you acknowledge room for possibility. It challenges you — and it invites others to help you pursue something of greater significance to you and the rest of the world.
Choose to be your authentic self. Let go of who you think you should be, embrace who you are and watch the magic of purposeful pursuit unfold.
Finding (and doing) what makes you come alive changes everything
“Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.” — Tim O’Reilly
Your purpose in life is to find and do the things that make you smile, laugh and lose yourself. Even if you aren’t sure yet, move into the exploration and experimentation phase of your life and enjoy the journey. You can’t put time on it. You can’t force yourself to find your “why” tomorrow or next month, or even next year. But make significant effort in the direction of your dreams one step at a time daily.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor suggests three ways for finding meaning in our lives:
- By creating a work or doing a deed
- By experiencing something or encountering someone
- By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering
Pursuing your “why” changes everything. You won’t discover your life’s work by wondering or worrying about it. And it doesn’t come fully formed. You’ll discover it by taking action, everyday.
By looking at what is working and what isn’t, you can align yourself with your why and what or the passion and purpose for your life. Clarity is the first step to crafting a life you love.
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