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The Differences between Happiness and Meaning in Life

Describing happiness and meaning

  • Happiness has more to do with getting what you want and feeling good.
  • Meaning has two major components: The cognitive processing component involves making sense of your experiences. The purpose component is motivational and consists of pursuing long-term goals that reflect one's identity. Meaning is related to activities such as developing and expressing the self, and consciously integrating one's past, present, and future experiences.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Differences between Happiness and Meaning in Life

The Differences between Happiness and Meaning in Life

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-differences-between-happiness-and-meaning-in-life/

blogs.scientificamerican.com

3

Key Ideas

Two central motivations in life: happiness and meaning

Happiness and meaning are two main motivations in life. Research suggests that happiness and meaning are strongly correlated and often feed off each other.

But, an increasing body of studies shows that there are trade-offs between pursuing happiness and pursuing meaning in life. For example, in parenting; parents often report that raising children increased meaning but decreased happiness. Revolutionaries often suffer through years of violence for a larger purpose that can bring great satisfaction and meaning.

Describing happiness and meaning

  • Happiness has more to do with getting what you want and feeling good.
  • Meaning has two major components: The cognitive processing component involves making sense of your experiences. The purpose component is motivational and consists of pursuing long-term goals that reflect one's identity. Meaning is related to activities such as developing and expressing the self, and consciously integrating one's past, present, and future experiences.

How to create meaning

While happiness satisfies the moment, avoiding negative thoughts and feelings may interfere with your personal development. Personal development relies on experiencing both positive and negative emotions. In contrast, two measures of meaning were positively associated with adaptation:

  • Cognitive processing. It is strongly related to grit (passion and perseverance).
  • Self-distancing. It is strongly related to gratitude and well-being. It seems that creating meaning is adaptive if one can maintain a third-person perspective of detachment.

Ultimately, well-being consists of both happiness and meaning. People are happiest when they pursue meaningful activities.

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