Why a Meaningful Life is More Fulfilling Than a Happy One
What distinguishes human life from animal life is our ability to search for meaning. Differing from happiness, meaning implies transcending the self while happiness implies its satisfaction.
What's the Latest Development?
A recent Gallup polls says Americans are happier today than they have been in the last four years. That may be small consolation given the largest economic crisis in two generations, which began about four years ago. But a forthcoming study in the Journal of Positive Psychology gives the Gallup poll an important context. In asking 400 Americans whether they thought their lives were meaningful and/or happy, researchers behind the study have found places where meaning and happiness overlap as well as places where they diverge. "Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a 'taker' while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a 'giver.'"
What's the Big Idea?
What makes living a happy life distinct from one filled with meaning may also be what separates human life from animal life. Happiness, say psychologists, is defined by drive reduction. In other words, when a desire such as hunger is satisfied, happiness increases. "Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others," explained Kathleen Vohs, one of the authors of the study. "In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants."
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Are university safe spaces killing intellectual growth?
Our experience of time may be blinding us to its true nature, say scientists.
- Time may not be passing at all, says the Block Universe Theory.
- Time travel may be possible.
- Your perception of time is likely relative to you and limited.
From questionable shipwrecks to outright attacks, they clearly don't want to be bothered.
- Many have tried to contact the Sentinelese, to write about them, or otherwise.
- But the inhabitants of the 23 square mile island in the Bay of Bengal don't want anything to do with the outside world.
- Their numbers are unknown, but either 40 or 500 remain.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.