Sunday 18 December 2016

Meaning of Life more important than happiness

You may have heard it said about somebody who has suicided... that they didn't seem unhappy.

"When they crunched the numbers, they discovered a surprising trend: Happiness and unhappiness did not predict suicide. The variable that did, they found, was meaning — or, more precisely, the lack of it."

"Research shows meaning and happiness can be at odds with one another. People with the most meaningful lives were "givers." But those with the happiest lives were "takers."

Getting zero sleep for the first year of your child's life does not make you happy. But as we saw, happiness isn't everything. Parenthood is the ultimate form of giving. And givers lead meaningful lives.

This article goes on to explore a few studies that have shown "meaning" and "giving" provide more long term life enrichment than "happy" and "taking".

1. Belonging
 What groups do you belong to? Quickest way to add meaning to your life is to see them more often. Not part of a group? Join one. No groups to join? Start one. It's as easy as texting people to get together regularly around a common interest.

2. Purpose
First, it's a stable and far-reaching goal. "Make it to the end of the workday without getting fired" doesn't cut it. You need something that motivates you and that you can organize your actions around.
Second, it involves a contribution to the world. It makes a difference in the lives of people who don't happen to be you.

3. Storytelling
In these stories, the tellers move from suffering to salvation — they experience a negative event followed by a positive event that resulted from the negative event and therefore gives their suffering some meaning.

 Professor James Pennebaker has shown that just 20 minutes of writing your story for four days has the power to dramatically improve your life. It helps people overcome anxiety, tragedy, and heartache. Those who wrote about their problems felt happier, slept better, and even got better grades.

4. Transcendence
Seek out moments of "awe".  The awe-inspired people, researchers found, felt a diminished sense of their own importance compared to others, and that likely led them to be more generous… They abandoned the conceit, which many of us have, that they were the center of the world. Instead, they stepped outside of themselves to connect with and focus on others.