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Author Topic: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?  (Read 3422 times)

Offline Ailuri

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Can happiness and meaning coexist? It seems like to be truly happy- a state of blissful contentment all the time-, you need to be willfully ignorant. How can someone be "happy" when they are concerned about people starving, wars and other violence that kill children, endangered species dying at unprecedented rates, etc.? Leading a meaningful life where you work to stop the bad things in the world doesn't make someone happy, although it does bring moments of great joy.

Offline Hiheels

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #1 on: 20 October, 2011, 09:39:31 AM »
I don't think anyone's happy all the time, unless blissfully unaware of everything...so I'd say having moment of joy is the type of happiness most of us have.
I don't mean that we're mostly sad the rest of the time, but at a level between the two.

Offline Duffield1

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #2 on: 20 October, 2011, 01:44:14 PM »
You could say that sometimes people with certain types of learning difficulties or disabilities experience a happy life - whilst we see what they can't do, they only see what they can and enjoy their lives as a result, without getting involved in the complexities of the global world - theirs is a far simpler world.

If that is the price of true happiness, then for me, that would be too high a price to pay. 

Some people do live a life motivated by meaningfulness - Mother Theresa, who one of our esteemed members had the privilege to meet, for example.  However, I think her position was extraordinary and not one that most people could live up to, so I am happy to touch other people's lives from time to time.  If someone feels better for knowing me, then I'm living my life as I would want to.

Offline JohnCostas

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #3 on: 20 October, 2011, 04:11:12 PM »
It is medically impossible to happy all the time.  Your brain "short-circuits" the happy feeling because of "hedonistic set" points which causes the feeling to terminate. This was detailed in a recent NY Magazine article. In every life some rain must fall, because your brain would not have it any other way. However, meaning can be consistent and endure. Whether you are happy or miserable, you can live a meaningful life. Therefore, meaningful is the better way to go. It is the more attainable goal.

Offline antonymous

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #4 on: 20 October, 2011, 06:40:03 PM »
If life becomes meaningless it is difficult to imagine ever being happy. The two go together. (IMHO)
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Sometimes it'svice versa"

Offline hdtg

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #5 on: 20 October, 2011, 11:11:36 PM »
Life is not in and of itself meaningful. It has only the meaning I or you as individuals attach to it.
Beyond the things which are essential to survival ( though in fact it is really the trunk of the same tree ) Humans are basically reward driven and rewards make us happy. (chemically altered state of consciousness)

We sometimes interpret our personal rewards as meaningfulness.Helping those who are not as fortunate as ourselves makes us feel good (happy). Relationships (of a positive sort) with others again make us feel good (happy) Chocolate (yep Heels you whisl) causes us to experience a chemical change (rewarding) which again causes a sense of happiness.

Happiness (in all its variations) is far more important than meaning, its chemical and it keeps us doing things which ensure our survival (like procreation)

Absence of happiness leads to apathy if we never experienced it we wouldn't survive and whilst it is not a constant it jogs you along in a series of pits troughs and plateaus which keep you living.

Offline Mommyjoyce

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #6 on: 24 October, 2011, 04:39:49 AM »
Well, personally, I take the phrase "meaningful life" as a synonym of Mother Theresa of Calcutta's quote which says that "a life that is not lived for others is a life not lived worthwhile."  But I would like to connect that having a meaningful life should also be connected to happiness.  One should be happy having a meaningful life.

If you will lead a life like hers just because you read somewhere that she had a meaningful life, then you have to be sure that you are happy doing the things she did.  If not, then you cannot describe your status as leading a  meaningful life. 

Happiness is a state of mind.  When you feel like you have more positive emotions, like 90% of the  time - I would say that you are considerably happy. 

By the way, a meaningful life doesn't have to be a self-sacrificing life like Mother Theresa.  If you are a blessing in your home, your community, your workplace and to at least a few strangers, then it can be said that you are leading a meaningful life. 

Offline AmyCN

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #7 on: 31 October, 2011, 12:38:46 AM »
I think happiness and meaning can coexist.  Personally, it makes me happy to help others who are down on their luck, suffering from illness, or trying to raise money for a needed school.  And that also brings meaning to my life.  My husband and I volunteer at local animal shelters.  We clean cages, feed and socialize with the homeless animals.  It makes me feel good that I'm contributing to their comfort and adoptability.  In my opinion, the best way to help yourself and bring meaning to your life is to help another person, or an animal or the planet as a whole.

Offline kat74

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #8 on: 15 November, 2011, 07:18:51 PM »
I think I would rather live a meaningful life because along the way happiness will find me. Happiness is something one can chose to be or mot so if your life is meaningful, you can then inject happiness in it by doing positive thing and associating yourself with the things that bring joy in your life.

Offline wneely

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #9 on: 16 November, 2011, 04:11:01 AM »
I think that in order to lead a meaningful life you must first lead a happy life.  I don't believe that we should all exist in perfectly blissful oblivion, but having a positive outlook goes a long way toward creating meaning in all we do.

I've never heard of anyone making an important discovery or societal contribution who was miserable at everything.  Everyone we study throughout history had some measure of happiness in their lives which made what they did meaningful to themselves first and later to others.

So I do feel that happiness and meaning should and do go hand in hand.
"There is nothing you can do that we cannot change unless you put a hole in the canvas."  ~Twyla Rose

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #10 on: 19 November, 2011, 12:23:23 AM »
These two co exist in order to maintain the balance of someone's life, whether it may be physical, mental or emotional. However, if you're going to weigh the value of each, I believe that leading a happy life would be more important. Being happy doesn't generally mean that you have no down times, and you always get everything you expect and want. Living happily involves that sense of contentment - you're happy with what you have, you see problems as a challenge and a way of making you stronger, you have a positive outlook on life, so on and so forth. If you are not happy with your life and your experiences, then everything you do would be meaningless, it would just be a part of your everyday routine, nothing more.

Offline erikc76

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #11 on: 27 January, 2012, 04:14:28 AM »
I think this is something only you can answer for yourself.  I tell myself I would rather lead a happy life, yet so far I keep trying to live a meaningful one.  I think it's pretty easy to lead a happy life, I don't know why I don't just stick with that plan.  Perhaps for me the best choice is to find balance between the two, yet that remains an enigma as well.

Offline D_Gabrielle

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #12 on: 02 February, 2012, 04:04:50 AM »
Why is this an "or" question?  It seems to me that having a life filled with meaning would bring happiness.  Whether that meaning be familial obligations or charitable work or artistic creation, as a few examples, if these things are important to a person and their life is filled with them then that person should be happy.
"Don't be afraid to get stupid... My hunch is you know TOO much... Be free, be wrong." ~ Mat Devine

Offline artistry

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #13 on: 04 February, 2012, 07:32:51 PM »
I would think, that if you can do meaningful things in your life, such as helping people who need help, in whatever way you can, then your happiness should be increased, just on the basis of your sacrifice and involvement, in trying to improve the state of others. I do believe that if you give of yourself, it returns to you many fold. Selfishness reaps nothing and your life could be barren, as a result. Givers seem to receive much more, with happiness being a large part of that.  Cheers.

Offline R. Paradon

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Re: Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful one?
« Reply #14 on: 05 February, 2012, 01:35:18 AM »
Can happiness and meaning coexist? It seems like to be truly happy- a state of blissful contentment all the time-, you need to be willfully ignorant. How can someone be "happy" when they are concerned about people starving, wars and other violence that kill children, endangered species dying at unprecedented rates, etc.? Leading a meaningful life where you work to stop the bad things in the world doesn't make someone happy, although it does bring moments of great joy.

I may be bashed for my thinking here but so be it. As a Buddhist I feel that everything we give or receive is a matter of Karma.  I am usually happy and feel content with my life.  I am not "willfully ignorant" of the evil things done on this earth but realize and accept that it does happen.  If a child is sick or born with a terrible disease or disability sure I am compassionate but perhaps in a former life he or she was a person that invoked terrible deeds to others.  Perhaps his/her next time around will be better.  Nothing is permanent.