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The Philosophy Of Meaning And Happiness

Mahtabul Alam Siddique     6 October, 2017 12:00 AM printer

The Philosophy Of Meaning And Happiness

Man in his attempt to get happiness since the commencement of his journey on to the civilization has madly been turning the upside down. He is all cracked up to take hold of it.

It is the thing which he seeks out throughout his life at the price of his whole life, and is the very passion which he is frantically obsessed with. Is it the sheer happiness that he should be striving for, or the meaning? A man may completely be happy in his life, but there may not be any meaning for him to live on. If there is no purpose and meaning, then it does not make any difference for him to be in existence or not to be. So, when it comes about prioritizing life, it is not the happiness, but the meaning is to be stressed.


By happiness, in general, we mean that people who are happy tend to think themselves to be having an easy life, a good health, and they can afford to buy whatever they need and want. A man is thought to be happy when he is free from stress and anxiety. This is how we are inclined to define happiness. But the fact is that we are not the mere species who can sense happiness. Animals also have the sense of happiness when their requirements are satiated. What keeps humans apart from the other species is not the pursuit of happiness but the pursuit of meaning. The ‘meaning’ here marks the distinction between humans and other species. Actually, people are in a mood of meaningful happiness when they give a part of themselves to other being regardless of their own interest. They draw happiness from imparting themselves to others. In the words of Martin E. P. Seligman, one of the leading psychological scientists alive today, in the meaningful life, “you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.”


A man who has got a meaning in life may be far more resilient to undergo any kind of trials of life and frightful circumstances than those who have not. A man who becomes aware of the responsibility he has toward a human being affectionately waiting for him, or to an unfinished work, will never manage to throw away his life. He is well-aware of the ‘meaning’ for which he is living and endeavors to put up with any adverse situation. But a man who has not found any ‘meaning’ is often seen committing suicide without having any second thought. He might, in that event, have not got a reason to continue living his life.


It is indeed a question of getting the people with suicidal-tendency to understand that their life is still expecting something from them. They can outline a very striking meaning worthy of their life in accordance with their yearning. It is only when they can bring their life a meaning after they have secured their freedom of life in the first place. Because everything can be taken away from a man except his freedom to decide his attitude in any given set of circumstance and to select his own way of life. But the aforesaid timeless proposition seems to have been at odds with our culture which is more interested in the pursuit of individual happiness than in the search for meaning. Many people overtly fail themselves to ascertain an acceptable life purpose, irrespective of how well their instant needs are being met.


It is very important to set a purpose and meaning in life to boost up overall happiness and life contentment, to ensure mental and physical health, to develop resiliency, enhance self-esteem, and shrink the possibility of depression. But the people seeking out happiness for their own interest only are actually leaving them less happy. Researchers of psychology say that it is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness. That is why researchers very often suggest us not to fix an aim merely to be happy. Happy people find joy from receiving, but the people leading meaningful lives derive joy from giving to others. Happiness without meaning characterizes a rather superficial, narcissistic, egocentric and even a selfish life.


The matter of fact is that people with more meaning of (in) life involve in the activities like procuring gifts for others, paying attention to kids, and arguing. People having adequate extent of meaning in their lives repeatedly hunt for meaning even when they know it will come at the cost of happiness. Having children, for instance, is related to the meaningful life and necessitates self-sacrifice; for one can signify one’s marital relationship by giving birth to children. Having children also entails making our life significant as we desperately want to be remembered even after our death through our offspring albeit we know that they may cause us pain, and to have further stress.


Well, meaning is also about transcending the present moment. Happiness is such an emotion as to be faded away very soon as all emotions do, and it is sensed in the here and now. Meaning, in contrast, is longer-lasting and permanent. It over-lasts the fleeting sentiment of happiness which is transitory. People obsessed and preoccupied with the present moment are happier, but the people contemplating the future or the past striving and plight feel more meaning. People having meaning in their lives, in the form of an evidently defined purpose, experience a longer-lasting satisfaction even when they are in a bad mood. But the people without a clearly defined purpose of life cannot have such a sublime feeling.


If we can secure a meaning even being in a very impoverished condition, our lives get meaningful. What matters is the meaning, but not the happiness without meaning. Being human points to a meaningful life, and all our humanity ought to be directed to something or someone other than oneself. We should aim at giving rather than receiving. Hence, let’s give our life a meaning by sharing our metallurgic happiness with the underprivileged stratum of the society.


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