The Pursuit of Happiness and Meaning

Have you ever felt a bit aimless, unmotivated or wondering what your purpose was in life? Maybe, like me, you’re working in a job that can sometimes feel a bit pointless and meaningless. Are you looking for something bigger than yourself or trying to forge a life that truly matters?

Finding purpose in life

There is an excellent book called “Man’s search for meaning” by Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, which outlines three ways one’s purpose in life is uncovered:

  1. By creating a work or doing a deed;
  2. By experiencing something or encountering someone;
  3. By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering
Contemplating life’s purpose

He also talks about making decisions, taking responsibility and being the person you decide to be. Viktor Frankl argues that the meaning of life in a general sense doesn’t matter, but rather the meaning of a person’s life at a given moment is the key. He also noted that suffering is unavoidable and simply part of existence. However if you have your why then you can bear almost any how and get used to anything. Pretty impressive mindset given what he experienced.

Personal learnings about living a better life

Motivation and fulfillment won’t be the same for everyone but my key takeaways from this book are:

  • That it is better to create than consume;
  • Everything isn’t about me. Instead it is preferable to consider what I can do to contribute to life, others and society;
  • Love is important and can bring moments of great joy, no matter what your situation;
  • It is better to seek experiences than things;
  • You always have the freedom to choose your attitude in any given situation regardless of the circumstances and this power no one can take away from you;
  • Suffering isn’t something to avoid at all costs;
  • Embracing fears may help negate them

I recommend reading “Man’s search for meaning” and your library will undoubtedly have a copy. It is very thought provoking and, for me, a good reality check.

Obviously putting this into practice is easier said than done, but Viktor Frankl’s three themes to uncover meaning and purpose seem like a solid starting point.

I love to hear from you if you’ve read the book and whether you had similar takeaways. Let me know what you think.

Mr Simple Life

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10 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Happiness and Meaning

  1. I think I’m one of those weird people who never wondered what their purpose was in life. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, which I do for fun and for a living. And, I always knew I wanted to be an example of positive change, which I’d like to think I am.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s a shame society seems to be inclined towards the other direction. Me, me, me seems to be increasingly the norm. I can’t remember where I read it but acts of kindness and altruism to friends, family, acquaintances and strangers alike, is shown to decrease stress and positively contribute to mental health. A win win approach to life?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post on pursuing happiness! I think you are absolutely right in saying that happiness should be more based on meaningful experiences than material things. I also like how you take the importance off of the self, and show that their is meaning in contributing to the well-being of others. I just wrote about this topic as well, so feel free to check it out and leave any contributions that you would like. Great post on pursuing happiness!

    Liked by 1 person

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