One of the great, timeless, transcendent books one can read is “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. I read it more than 30 years ago, today my son is reading it. The world changes, the essence of what is human, not so much. The first motivating force of man is the struggle to find meaning in life itself, in life as it is, and every life, no matter how adverse it may be, always has some meaning.
We are living in a time when purpose and values are finally beginning to be seriously considered in the business world.
But is it possible to live the purpose of a brand if you don’t have a purpose for your life? Can there be a social contribution without an individual belief?
The search for meaning, not happiness, is what makes life incredibly better. This is not an opinion, but the result of many studies.
Research indicates that the pursuit of happiness, when our definition of happiness is synonymous with pleasure and easy gratification, will ultimately not bring us deeper feelings of satisfaction; it will not allow us to live at our optimal point.
Although we claim that the “pursuit of happiness” is the primary driver of the human race, we humans are better at seeking fulfillment and meaning, creating lives that generate a sense that we matter.
Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there is a more satisfying way?
Happiness comes and goes but having meaning in life, serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you, gives you something to hold on to.
Living a meaningful life is key.
In our culture there is a close relationship between desire, emptiness and dissatisfaction.
Anxiety and dissatisfaction are increasingly permanent presences. Every day we know more and more pills for existential anguish. Uncertainty and anguish remind us of the need for meaning in life.
What would you rather have: a happy life or a meaningful life?
People can be happy and lead meaningful lives, of course. But most of us, consciously or not, choose the pursuit of happiness over the pursuit of meaning.
In many surveys, most people list happiness as their top value, and self-help books and life coaches are part of a multi-billion dollar industry.
But should happiness really be the only goal that motivates us?
Research shows that the happy life and the meaningful life differ, and that the surest path to true happiness lies in pursuing not only happiness but also a meaningful life.
Psychologists have begun to take a closer look at how the pursuit of happiness affects people and have discovered some disturbing trends. It turns out that the pursuit of happiness negatively affects our well-being.
You don’t become happy by chasing happiness. You become happy living a life that means something.
This can be extended to the workplace.
The companies of the future can no longer think that they can simply exist. We are part of a larger society and a larger society is part of us. The trend of when, why and how we get involved in major social issues will continue to be part of the future of leadership.
The odds of being fully engaged in your work increase by 250% if you work on meaningful projects every day.
The most important obvious benefit of continuing your amazing work is the satisfaction it brings. When you start doing “real work” that means a lot to you, everything falls into place.
One of the best ways to get satisfaction as an employee is to work on the projects you initiate. Something you are responsible for.
If you can take more initiative and implement many of your own ideas, rather than reacting to the actions that others expect of you, your chances of finding satisfaction could double. For many people, reactionary actions take up more of their daily work than actions that they themselves initiate.
Initiating a meaningful journey is key.
WHY you pursue something is as important as WHAT you pursue.
You can start something bigger than yourself. Something you truly believe in. Your quest must be meaningful to you.
Purpose eases the pain of long hours and gives you the strength to fail. It makes menial tasks meaningful and even satisfying.
Pursuing and then living your “why” changes everything.
You won’t discover your life’s work by wondering or worrying about it. You will discover it by taking action, every day, every day.
By looking at what works and what doesn’t, you can align yourself with your why and what or your life’s passion and purpose. Clarity is the first step to creating work you love.
Many people have a misconception of what constitutes true happiness. It is not achieved through self-gratification, but through faithfulness to a purpose.
Many people’s absolute idea of happiness is terribly skewed. In fact, you won’t be as happy in life as you expect if you get a promotion tomorrow or get a raise in your salary.
You’ll be “happy” in the short term, but in the long term, you won’t necessarily be “happy”. According to one research study, doubling your income only increases happiness by 9 percent. That’s sad.
If you’re feeling unmotivated, unsure of yourself, aimless or can’t get lost in your current job, you’re not alone: many people are in the same boat.
Today is the best time to choose to do something that really matters. Something meaningful to you.
That special thing that makes you create value that means a lot to you. Something that only you can share with the rest of us. Something you are capable of doing but keep putting off because you don’t think you’re ready.
Even if you don’t have everything you need, at least try.
The world needs more creators, not just more consumers.
It has never been easier to decide to be responsible for your own work, for the change you expect.
In research, Iris Mauss, a social psychologist at U.C. Berkeley who studies the possible negative consequences of pursuing happiness, found that people who value happiness highly actually have more mental health problems, including, unfortunately, depression.
The more value you place on your own happiness, the more likely you are to feel lonely. Don’t waste your valuable time looking for your own happiness. You’ll end up feeling more shallow than you can imagine.
However, pursuing meaning makes you feel good about yourself, because you are pursuing something bigger than yourself. Something that makes you create value.
When you understand how it brings value, you’ll give meaning to even the smallest thing you do and connect the dots between your efforts and a larger purpose. The most motivating choices are those that align with your “why” and your purpose.
When you seek purpose, you recognize room for possibility.
Finding (and doing) what makes you come alive changes everything.
Purpose and meaning are not reserved for only a privileged few. We ALL deserve to understand how the work we are doing is having a positive impact and we all need to look inward to get a better sense of who we are and why we are doing the work we are doing.
You can’t force yourself to find your “why” today, tomorrow or next month, or even next year. But you can make a significant effort in the direction of your dreams, one step at a time every day.
In closing, “we are in the age of the pill. If we do not want to be buried under this wave of incentives, if we do not want to sink into total promiscuity, then we have to learn to distinguish between what is essential and what is not, between what is meaningful and what is not, between what is responsible and what is not,” said Victor Frankl.
And the meaning of life, according to Viktor Frankl, lies in finding a purpose. If we have a “why”, we will always find a “how”.