I did a assessment recently of the meaningful aspects of my life. As you would imagine, family, love relationship, parents, friends, being of service topped the list. The thought that meaning is different than happiness has been percolating in my brain for awhile, then I read this great article that brought this idea home.
It occurs to me that I have been pursuing happiness for a long time when what I really want is to identify what I find meaningful. To me, happiness is an emotion that is with me sometimes but not in other situations. This isn’t bad as I assumed for a long time. Instead it is the cherry on top of a meaningful life. The circumstances that have shaped my life have had some challenging moments that instead of making me unhappy have shaped my interest in meaning making.
For a long time I sought out books on happiness to elevate my situational suffering. I wanted to be on a path where things were happy and easier. I had defined that as success. I thought if my life went in a straighter line of good education, great job, adorable family, supportive husband, trips to IKEA and the coast that then I would be happy. That was my life for a couple of years and it didn’t make me happier. It looked good on paper and having kids is one if the most meaningful experiences I will ever have but in those years, I was striving for picture perfect and happy. Today my life is not picture perfect but it is real, sometimes uncomfortable, often happy and meaningful.
What do you find meaningful in your life? Spending some time answering this question has been a beautiful experience for me. After you identify somethings that feel meaningful for you, move towards them. Happiness will follow, not always, not in every moment but if experiencing meaning in your life is your goal, you will be walking a path of a meaningful life for you.