The meaning of happiness

Does meaning create happiness?

Does meaning create happiness?

People often say ‘I just want to be happy.’

It’s more unusual to hear ‘I just want my life to be meaningful,’ yet that’s what most of us seem to want for ourselves. We chase meaning without really knowing what it looks like. When we lose a sense of meaning, we feel something important is missing. We fear the void.

What is this thing we call meaning, and why do we need it so badly?

Is meaning a type of order that sits above the mundane functions of daily life? Perhaps it’s a contextual construction to offset routine and provide an arcane answer to the question ‘Is this all there is?’ Because that’s a question we don’t like to answer. And even if we never find more, perhaps accepting the question as valid suggests there is more to life than this.

Is that knowledge alone enough to make us happy? And alleviate the feared fruitlessness of daily life? Is it a metaphysical ‘get out of jail free card’ for the unrelenting sameness of existence? Does the idea of meaning make understanding it irrelevant? In short, can the idea of meaning actually make us happy?

On the surface that may seem crazy: to be happy because of the possibility of something, even though we may choose not to find it. Like the belief in life after death, is it enough to temper fear?

I believe that happiness and meaningfulness frequently overlap. Perhaps some degree of meaning is a prerequisite for happiness. If that were the case, people may pursue meaning only as a stepping stone towards happiness.

If that was the case would there be any reason to want meaning for its own sake?


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