Besides Happiness June 2014

One of my passions in life is happiness, or specifically, understanding how it happens, where it comes from, how to find and keep it, and how to help everybody else in the world obtain it too. This passion for happiness is not unrelated to my other obsessions with quality of life and urban planning.

I’ve been watching a lot of TED talks and other lectures on happiness on YouTube lately and I’ve noticed that the speakers always imply that happiness is the one and only goal in life. It is often pointed out that having kids, working too much, and failing to accept your circumstances have a negative effect on happiness. While I agree that it’s self-evident that happiness is a goal in life, I disagree that it’s the goal in life. And the speakers are right to point these facts about happiness out, but I think it’s equally important to consider the other goals in life, such as meaning.

Entrepreneurs understand this. Parents understand this. Heartbroken teenagers understand this. They all have a lot of pain ahead of them, and they are most definately not as happy as they could be. But guess what? They are part of something bigger than themselves and they are willing to sacrifice a little bit of happiness in order to feel meaning and fulfillment. They are okay feeling stress and sadness if it means that their actions will impact more than their own lives. Their actions will outlive them, and this immortality makes it worth it.