Or, in other words, Meaning > Happiness

The pursuit of happiness isn’t all that is advertised. Don’t get me wrong. I, too, want contentment and to be worry-free. I just don’t think these are great goals and enduring states of being. Chasing down contentment and happiness as permanent states only leads to a wacky wild goose chase, leaving one disappointed. Really, emphasis should be on the phrase “pursuit of,” not the word “happiness.”

In a January 2013 article in The Atlantic, Emily Esfahani Smith wrote of Viktor Frankl’s continuing relevance to psychology and current research in human health and well-being. She called the reader’s attention to nuances that differentiate happiness and meaning. Happiness is present-oriented and fleeting. Meaning incorporates the past, present, and future. It is more enduring. Recent studies suggest that a meaningful existence doesn’t always equate to maximum happiness. Esfahani Smith concludes:

By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves — by devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking” — we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.

Advocacy, as I see it, is the way a person can focus her time, treasure, talent, and energies toward the pursuit of meaning. Frankl wrote, “The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.” (Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, 1946)

The greatest gift I can bestow on my children is to live my life dedicated to the pursuit of meaning.

image of The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

One comment on “Advocacy

  1. Pingback: Share Today, Shape Tomorrow | MiscEtcetera v2

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