I presume many people have a bucket list of accomplishments they’d like to achieve before parting from this life. I have 4 items on mine, all related to writing and I work toward attaining them every day. If I do succeed with any one of them, I hope I have the wit to find other goals because a life without purpose is an empty one.
A recent article reprinted in The Week, confirms my opinion. Psychologists have been studying the difference between a happy life and a meaningful one. A happy life, they define as an existence without stress or worries, while a meaningful life refuses to bend to suffering and may even be strengthened by it. (“What is a good life?” reprint in The Week, 2/22/13 from The Atlantic Media Co. and published in The Atlantic Magazine. Pg. 41.) They explain that happiness is all about the present moment and giving the self what it wants. Meaning invites a person to look beyond the present moment — which might be stressful or even tragic — to a higher purpose, one that usually includes others.
Victor Frankl, a holocaust victim and author of Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) survived the horrors of a German concentration camp during World War II by caring for others while many of his fellow prisoners, bright and productive people, withered away. He wrote that his experience during those hideous times taught him difference between happiness and purpose and the impact of what he learned was so profound that In 1991, The Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club listed Frankl’s work as one of the 10 most influential books in the United States. (Ibid, pg. 40.)
Making a distinction between happiness and meaning is important for all of us. It helps us sort out what is lasting and what is transitory, what is luck and what is the fruit of our labor. Having a higher purpose sees us through the rocky times.
(Courtesy of yahoo.com)