A scholarly debate about the relationship between purpose and happiness raises fundamental questions about what it means to live a happy life. Philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders have long discussed what makes life worthwhile. Is it a life full of happiness or a life full of meaning and purpose? Is there a distinction between the two? What is the meaning of happy?
Recently, several scholars have delved deeper into these issues, attempting to disentangle the differences between a meaningful life vs happy life existence. Their research implies that there’s more to life than happiness—and even calls into question some prior findings in the field of positive psychology—earning it both praise and condemnation in the media. The purpose of our lives is to be happy, and we should live our lives accordingly.
We discovered that a meaningful life and a happy life frequently coexist—but not always. And we were eager to learn more about the distinctions between the two. Our statistical analysis attempted to distinguish between what brought meaning and not happiness to one’s life and vice versa. It is crucial to know how to be happy in life.
The researchers observed five fundamental contrasts between a happy life and one that is meaningful.
- Happy people fulfill their desires and needs, but this appears to be secondary to living a meaningful life. As a result, happiness is linked to health, income, and ease of living, but not to the purpose.
- Happiness is about being present now, whereas meaningfulness is about thinking about the past, present, and future—and their connections. Furthermore, enjoyment was viewed as transient, whereas meaningfulness appeared to persist longer.
- Giving to others gives you meaning when receiving what they give to you satisfies you. Happy was more closely associated with the benefits one obtains from social ties, particularly friendships was more closely associated with what one offers to others, such as child care. In this vein, self-described “takers” were happier than “givers,” and spending time with friends was associated with happiness rather than meaning while spending more time with loved ones was linked to meaning but not happiness.
- Meaning is crucial, but enjoyment isn’t. A meaningful existence is linked to doing things to express oneself and caring about one’s personal and cultural identity, but not to happiness. Consider yourself intelligent or creative, for example, and you will find significance, but not happiness.
Happiness appears to be more about having your needs met, getting what you want, and feeling good. Meaningful life looks more about building a personal identity, expressing oneself, and actively integrating past, present, and future experiences. We should realize the importance of happiness in life.
Also, Read, is mind reading possible?
Further research on the parallels and differences between happy life vs meaningful life, in my opinion, can significantly contribute to our knowledge of this “sweet spot” of well-being. That would be significant. We should know how to live a happy and meaningful life.