Who doesn’t want to be happy?
Life’s short … you’re only here once … life isn’t a dress rehearsal … sound familiar? I’m sure you, as have I, heard these often cliché expressions more than once and maybe you’ve said it yourself, I know I have!
Does that mean then that we should be blasé about buying those new shoes knowing we can’t really afford them or drinking just a little too much on a Sunday evening?!
Every now and then, I’d say ‘yes!’ Being sensible all the time does get boring and there is something about that adrenaline kick we get when we first go out showing off those fabulous new shoes! But do you also get that little feeling inside that knows you are enjoying the moment just because you DON’T do it all the time? And if you did, would it really be as much fun?
We hear so much about balance and everything in moderation and there is a reason for that. No one wants to live a life free from fun, spontaneity and the occasional splurge but if we did that day in, day out, surely it would lose its meaning and that initial kick we used to get would lessen over time?
In my previous post, I touched on ‘meaning’ and happiness is very much connected to it.
Research from the Journal of Positive Psychology concluded that
a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a “taker” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver.”
Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided.
Of course, they do talk about how the happy life is also defined by lack of stress or worry, being able to buy the things they need or want and to be in good physical health.
Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. It connects the past to the present to the future. Thinking beyond the present moment, into the past or future was a sign of the relatively meaningful but unhappy life.
Happiness is not generally found in contemplating the past or future ie. people who thought more about the present were happier, but people who spent more time thinking about the future or about past struggles and sufferings felt more meaning in their lives, though they were less happy.
Having negative events happen to you, the study found, decreases your happiness but increases the amount of meaning you have in life.
I feel we can blend both of these states to create meaningful, rich and happy lives. Do you?