Often I’m surfing the Internet and I start following one link after another with no idea where I’m going. Last week as I was following those rabbit trails, wasting too much time, I unexpectedly came upon the website Brevedy and a blog post by Mark Frankel called “Positive Psychology and Valuing Meaning over Happiness”.
That caught my interest because what I usually find are articles about how to find happiness: “Five Stages of Happiness”; “Researchers claim to have found the ‘Happiness’ gene”; and “Money actually did buy me happiness” for example.
But how does happiness relate to meaningfulness?
Each person has their own understanding of happiness, but a widely held view is that happiness is the same as pleasure or positive feelings. And if you maximize the positive feelings and reduce the number of negative feelings you are happier. Right?
But in the Brevedy blog post, Mark Frankel, points out that this view is challenged by Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology. Seligman suggests there are several different routes to happiness: the Pleasant Life, consisting in having as many pleasures as possible; the Good Life, which consists in knowing what your strengths are, and then re-crafting your work, love, friendship, leisure and parenting to use those strengths; and the Meaningful Life, which consists of using your strengths in the service of something that you believe is larger than you are.
Although these routes may overlap, according to recent research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, there are significant differences between a happy life and a meaningful life including the following predictors.
1. Satisfying one’s needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness. 2. Happiness was largely present-oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. 3. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. 4. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. 5. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self, contributed to meaning but not happiness.
The search for meaning, doing something you believe in that addresses a higher goal than just your own enjoyment, is an important aspect of what makes us human.
But can you live a meaningful life and be happy? I believe so. But you’ll have to change your expectations that happiness is only pleasure driven and void of stress and conflict. It can be hard and challenging.
There are plenty of opportunities to give back – if you still have some gas in your tank. At the Volunteer Fair there were over thirty-seven organizations looking for volunteers. Giving yourself for a higher calling, can bring great satisfaction and meaning. And a whole lot of happiness.
Thanks to the Center members who attended the Annual Membership Meeting last Tuesday. And a big thanks to Nelda and the crew from Cherry Heights Living for providing a delicious dinner everyone raved about.
My goodness, next week is August all ready - which means Andre, KC and Tom will be playing at the Center on Tuesday, August 2nd. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated.
Also next week on Thursday, August 4th from 5:00 – 7:00 PM The Dalles Art Center’s reception will be held for the “Gorge Artists Create” Exhibition. This is the art center’s annual open juried show and this year’s theme is "Architecture". The reception is sponsored by Carolyn Wood and The Mid-Columbia Senior Center.
The name of the voluptuous character who was hopelessly in love with Lil’ Abner was Daisy May Scragg (her maiden name before she married into the Yokum clan) who lived in Dogpatch, Kentucky. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Bill Van Nice.)
This week’s “Remember When” question is about the 1958 novelty song “Beep, Beep” sung by the Playmates. It describes, in an increasingly faster tempo, a Cadillac being followed and then passed by what make of car? And for bonus points, as he passes the Cadillac going 120 MPH, what does the driver yell at the Cadillac? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of the AMC's assembly plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin from the 1950’s.
Well, it’s been another week waiting to see what comes my way. Until we meet again, don’t let the sun catch you yawning.
“May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.” Nelson Mandela