Recently, a friend posted this article on Facebook. It was interesting timing because I'd been pondering some related concepts for a while. The article examines the relationship between being happy and leading a meaningful life. Utilizing social and psychological research, it identifies some interesting but probably not surprising conclusions.
First off, it notes that Amercans are actually happier than they've ever been; however, fewer people see themselves as leadering a purposeful, meaningful life. Perhaps, we spend too much time being happy and less time in the pursuit of happiness.
Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a "taker" while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a "giver."I am trying hard not to quote the entire article here, but it's difficult to summarize the point without reducing it to something too simple. The article cites Viktor Fankl, concentration camp survivor and author of Man's Search for Meaning.
"Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself -- be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself -- by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love -- the more human he is."I admit that I am, by and large, happy, but I also don't think my life is inherently without meaning, so I would not contend these definitions are cut and dried. In fact, I think what's helped me achieve some balance between happiness and meaning is recognizing that my needs are not always at the heart of everything I do, and it's okay to own that at my stage of life. I can't have everything I want. That doesn't preclude all happiness.
I share this today in part because I found it interesting, and I think plenty of people struggle with that balance. I also posted it here because it brings me back to writing, an area in which I'm not particularly happy. It's not only about the long process or the loads of rejection.
The reality is, I simply cannot do everything. I cannot focus on writing and work and family and civic endeavors and maintain my sanity. I make choices. I give up some things for others. So, writing has taken a back seat for a few months, and I'm slowly trying to wrap my head around what my new goals are.
Because I'll always be in pursuit.