We draw meaning from anything we can find. Our titles, our possessions, our friends, our past and our possible future are all bragging rights. We shine a light upon our morals and beliefs as if to say “this is who I am, this is why I matter!”.
We’re obsessed with meaning. With being important, with being someone. But who? Who should we be and why?
It’s always been this way.
We need to define who we are in relation to everyone else around us. We need to know where we belong and if we fit in. Some people are better at this game than others, and we tend to call them “successful”.
Successful artists are renown, but they might be peculiar and crazy.
Successful leaders are rich, but they might find themselves lonely.
Successful idols are famous, but they might miss their privacy.
We’re so focused on the positives. Kids wanting to be pop-stars and walk Hollywood’s red carpet. Everyone wanting to be an entrepreneur and either be the next BigThing™ and/or sell for millions.
We have a tendency to see the good things, and especially the things we want to believe. It’s easy to say that we would be happier if only we were richer, more famous, less lonely. Leaner, fitter, higher, stronger. More skilled, focused, well paid. Well travelled, read, studied.
Happiness has become the holy grail of humankind. Sought after as much by religions as by advertising companies. From the lady at the corner to a marketing guru, they all know the real secret to happiness, at only 19.99$.
We’re bombarded with pictures of happier-than-us friends on social media. We like seeing those because hey, they’ve made it!
If only we had their career, car, wife, kids, house. If only we were single like they are, or damn, if only we were in travelling the world like they are.
Those genuine, non-prepared happy shots are the worst, they destroy our “but it’s all fake” argument.
We tend to forget we only see a single snapshot of their lives. We have our very happy moments too, just as everyone does! But happiness it’s not an all-encompassing, constant state of euphoria. Because when you’re experiencing such euphoria you’re either seeing your child being born, or your brain is swimming in drugs.
We seek meaning because we believe that having a meaningful life it’s the answer to a happier life, which I happen to believe it’s true, but happiness doesn’t come from pursuing meaning. Happiness comes from working hard on something we believe it’s meaningful.
How can we purpose what’s meaningful if we don’t know where to find meaning in our life? Well, ask yourself, what’s important for you? What would you be happy to sacrifice, even just a little, to give back to the world?
Most people can find meaning in their children, in learning, in helping others. Those are the easy ones, they’re hard-wired into us by millions of years of evolution as a social species. But people find meaning in all sorts of things: painting, writing, exercising, loving, saving the planet, being religious, fighting for what you believe in.
You take your time, energy, genius, money, whatever you have, and do something important with it. You create, you help, you give to others.
Why is it that buying things only gives us a short burst of “happiness” or excitement? Because, as much as it’s been said, owning things doesn’t really mean anything. Now,
You won’t be in a constant state of happiness, probably the contrary, as leading a meaningful life might come with more hardships, but you will be happy to go through with it because you feel you’re doing something that matters! Even if such a thing it’s delivering the best pizzas you can possibly cook.
We’re moon than 7 billion people on this planet. We all need jobs, and we can’t all be artists, or pursue whatever dreams we might have, quit our jobs and become Steve Jobs, but we can find happiness in the little things we love, give back whatever little we can.
Greatness ’s just about perception. For the kids in a hospital, a clown-doctor is a hero because they’re making them laugh. They’re there for them when others might not. They’re giving their time, energy and love and ask nothing in return but a smile.
Imagine a world in which we all give more of ourselves to others in exchange for just a smile.