The 10th and final key = MEANING!
In the final part of our series 10 Keys for Happier Living, we explore meaning and what it really means for us to have purpose. What makes us happy and how can we be happier?
Action for Happiness claim:
‘The meaning of life is a life with meaning. People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do’
What does having meaning in life really mean? and why is it important?
Having meaning in our lives is all about being apart of something that is bigger than ourselves. This needs to be something you believe in and have passion for. Some people find meaning in their religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference.
Research suggests that people with religious faith or other spiritual practices tend to show higher average levels of wellbeing and happiness compared to those with no religious belief. However, these are not the only sources of meaning.
Our relationships, having genuine connections with others, are a key element of meaning in our lives. These relationships go beyond significant others, it is also how we connect as parents, friends, co-workers, relatives, and members of the community.
Other sources that contribute to our meaning is having a job or activity that you are passionate about. Meaning is something very individual and no one can tell you what gives you meaning in your life – you have to find this out for yourself.
To help you master your meaningful life, consider your character strengths and utilise these in something bigger / greater / larger than you.
For example, someone who has strong character strengths in empathy, listening, and compassion may find meaning in changing the lives of others in need. Impacting positively on other people’s lives is greater than the needs of themselves thus providing them with meaning and purpose that is bigger than them.
There is research that suggest if we have meaning we have higher levels of happiness. Studies of people who believe their lives ‘have meaning’ show big benefits for wellbeing. Martin Seligman (the founder of positive psychology) describes meaning as a vital component of happiness and wellbeing, he describes the meaningful life as, “using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.”
Evidence also shows that increased levels of community participation and charitable giving correlate with higher levels of happiness. If you are struggling to make sense of what meaning is for you, why not pledge to volunteer in your community for something you are passionate about?
What actually makes us happy?
Believe it or not, money does not make us happy! Although income can affect our happiness, what matters the most is our relationships with others and our inner mental health.
Happiness comes from having goals and values that are bigger than ourselves which will create meaning in our lives.
Can we create a happier world?
Although we need to push for systemic changes, we can also ‘be the change’ in the way that we approach our lives in our homes, workplaces and communities.
Watch this short video from Jody Williams, she will help you understand just how powerful YOU are and what you can do with YOUR power.
Join the Action for Happiness Pledge
The Action for Happiness movement is all about making a personal commitment to try to live in a way that creates more happiness and less unhappiness. There are lots of things you can do as part of this pledge such as setting up happiness cafe’s and starting happiness conversations.
Join the pledge here