Wait a minute! This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife.
-Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime”
What is happiness?
In that section, you’ll find happiness explained in different Types. Not all experiences of happiness are equal!
There are myths clarified, current findings in happiness research, and straight-forward methods for living a more joyful life.
Both happiness and joy have their benefits. A life well-lived is a life enriched with both.
Happiness without joy, however, is a case of particular prevalence and urgency. Many, many people live without meaning and purpose, and it isn’t that they are seeking it and failing. It is far more typical, in our modern world of high quality-of-life metrics, for people to live comfortably and ‘happily’ but not meaningfully.
This page is about how happiness can hold us back from living a life of meaning, purpose, and JOY.
Happy people satisfy their wants and needs, but this is mostly irrelevant for meaningfulness.
Happiness involves being focused on the present, whereas meaningfulness involves thinking more about the past, present, and future—and the relationship between them. In addition, happiness was seen as fleeting, while meaningfulness seemed to last longer.
Generally speaking, meaningfulness is derived from giving to other people; happiness comes from what they give to you.
Meaningful lives involve stress and challenges. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness, which suggests that engaging in challenging or difficult situations that are beyond oneself or one’s pleasures promotes meaningfulness but not happiness.
Self-expression is important to meaning but not happiness. Doing things to express oneself and caring about personal and cultural identity were linked to a meaningful life but not a happy one.
As we move through our lives, our bliss map is changing. Day by day, month by month, and year by year the intensity of each of the 4 bubbles ebbs and flows.
When it comes to work, happiness can become a hindrance when we satisfy 1 to 3 of the 4 quadrants and we are content to leave it at that, neglecting what is missing.
– Many trade jobs (plumber, electrician, etc.)
– Installing solar panels (world really needs it…might not love it)
– Some forms of leadership, elected officials.
-People who lead because they must.
– Being a good businessperson.
– a well-paid, content, productive, manager
– Pop-culture journalists
– comfortable jobs with no desire outside of that
– a Sommelier
– overwhelmed teachers
– some tenured college professors
– working in recycling (doesn’t actually work that well)
– teaching arts (sometimes)
– Non-profit work
– Camp Counselors
– A “Career”
– A “Job”
The Bliss Map gives us a useful lens through which we can assess where we are and what we’re missing.
A Story to Consider
Importance of Meaning
Strategy and Knowledge
A classic song from the Talking Heads that seems to capture this state of Happiness as a Hindrance.
Is a lack of a mission what’s keeping you from finding Joy through meaning and purpose?
An artistic video by a friend of the site. It’s about the realization of going through the motions and ‘checking out’, then the work it takes to get back to yourself.
What are the societal spells that bind us into metiocrity? What factors in our culture create a low-level sense of happiness, keeping us from meaning and purpose?
-Henry David Thoreau
“Whoever dies with the most toys wins.”
-bumper sticker quote
Sometimes we aim that violence at ourselves, as in overwork that leads to burnout or worse, or in the many forms of substance abuse; sometimes we aim that violence at other people — racism, sexism, and homophobia often come from people trying to relieve their suffering by claiming superiority over others.”
“If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.”
-Anna Quindlen – A Short Guide to a Happy Life