Is there more to life than happiness?

There seems to be an increasing drive to pursue happiness; we want to be satisfied and content with who we are and what we do with our lives.

Whilst a few people seem to eventually “find” their happiness, many of us are still trying to figure out what would genuinely lift our spirit… and keep it there!

The usual assumption is that we’ll be happier when we achieve success, but some successful people think their accomplishments are still not enough, not finding satisfaction with who they are and what they’ve done.

Perhaps it’s not about finding happiness, and it’s more about finding meaning. Studies show that people who have found meaning in their lives are more resilient in pursuit of a fulfilling life.

Having listened to Emily Esfahani Smith’s TED talk on ‘There’s more to life than being happy’, here are some ideas to work on.

  • Find where we belong

Belonging does not merely come from showing up or being present. Some people who have been part of communities for a long time still might feel like they don’t belong. The sense of belonging develops in groups or communities where we feel valued for who we are and what we contribute.

Love and kindness are where true belonging is born. Knowing that the contribution we make is appreciated indeed develops a confident feeling of belonging. From this confidence, we can begin to find our purpose, which is another essential pillar of living a meaningful life.

  • See our purpose

Finding our purpose may not happen today or tomorrow; it may take a while to find. 

This could be because deep purpose is not found in what we do, but in what we give. As we grow in our place of meaning, we will start to see that an element of what we do becomes a service to others. It’s about creating space in our lives to serve others and make positive contributions to their lives.

Why do I wake up in the morning? Why do I do what I do? Who am I doing it for? Who else benefits from my work or actions? How else can I make it better? These are some of the questions that can start us on a journey to finding our purpose and transcend the frustrations of daily challenges.

  • Be open to transcendence

Whilst transcendence is often used in a spiritual sense, it can be very practical. It simply means that we’re starting to see that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Our sense of belonging, our embracing of purpose, helps us see that the work we’re doing contributes to something far more significant and far more connected than we realised.

As we live through these experiences, create memories of meaning and engage in purposeful work, we gather up stories that we can share with others, to encourage and embolden them.

Good stories are significant in living a meaningful life.

  • Personal storytelling

What stories are you telling yourself? What is the story you tell yourself when you reflect on your life?

What you think of yourself profoundly impacts your behaviour and actions.

“It all starts in the mind,” Napoleon Hill once said. “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Beliefs matter because they can lead to habits.

Positive storytelling can give you the courage to relentlessly pursue the things you want and live a life that will be meaningful to others too. 

Applying these ideas into your daily life won’t be linear or clean-cut, but if you can explore one idea at a time and define them according to your life or what they mean to you, you\’ll be taking a step in the right direction.

Remember, all the money in the world will have no value if we have not discovered some sense of meaning.