December 31, 2016

"But meaning isn’t something you either have or don’t have. It’s an approach to life — a mind-set."

"People can choose to pursue meaning as well as happiness. In a recent paper, Veronika Huta and Richard Ryan discovered that people behave very differently depending on which they emphasize, and that in turn affects their well-being. In one study, college students were asked to pursue either meaning or happiness over ten days by doing at least one thing each day to increase meaning or happiness, respectively. Some of the most popular activities reported by people in the meaning group included forgiving a friend, studying, and helping or cheering up another person. Those in the happiness group listed activities like sleeping in, playing games, and eating candy...."

From "In 2017, Pursue Meaning Instead of Happiness."

22 comments:

tim maguire said...

Let me guess. The "meaning" group reported greater happiness? We've known that for millennia.

Oso Negro said...

Sure, why pursue happiness with your pipe and your bowl and your wives, when you could be out burning villages and extending your empire so that your life matters? There does seem do be an underlying assumption that meaning will be created in accord with the author's personal constructs of goodness.

rhhardin said...

Thurber's "Let Your Mind Alone!" is the ultimate treatment of mental self-help fads.

William said...

In most cases it's not either/or but neither/nor. The dice aren't loaded n our favor. Meaning and happiness are both elusive. For the most part, they're chance by products of forces beyond our control.

whitney said...

That's what social justice warriors and the deeply religious have in common. A feeling of meaning in their lives. The results are very different though.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

There was some sort of click-bait at the sidebar, something about the phenomenon of "bud sex" among straight, rural men.

nymag.com?

GIGO

traditionalguy said...

This must mean something. Freud blew up the meanings world by studying the meaning in dreams. Now Scott Adams explains people mostly only seeing their dreams and ascribe them a comforting meaning.

Finally we see that Life is a long Walt Disney Cartoon. I wonder how the Global Warming and Russian Election Hacking cartoons are playing today.

Michael K said...

I doubt there are any engineering students described. That used to be true of premeds but I don't know anymore.

Anyway, grades = happiness.

Laslo Spatula said...

Sketchy Guy Who Works at the Adult Bookstore says:

Every day I see people with no Purpose and no Happiness. Society dangles its various baubles in front of them, but just always out of reach. Porn is not theirs for a brief moment of Happiness: it is their way to say I Exist: these people, in these films, they are doing this for ME. I give THEM Purpose…

You can tell where people are at on their Slow Descent by the amount of Anger in the Porn they choose. Simple sex with smiling women mostly devoid of tattoos: the man has not completely given up Hope. Hell, these could be College Girls, on a lark. All Good Fun. Perhaps something could Change for these men, just maybe…

Then comes the tattooed girls with the scared eyes and the sloppy deep-throat gagging: Change, it ain’t coming for them. THIS is how Life is: a giant cock forced down your throat, farther than it ever should decently go. The man can watch this, and for a brief moment, feel HE is the one with the relentless cock: he is the one forcing it deep into another’s throat. This is not Happiness or Purpose, this is a temporary relief from Anguish, a relief that ends as soon as the used Kleenex is being thrown away…

Then there are the ‘rape fantasies’ and the ‘gang-bangs’: abandon Hope Ye Who Watch This. Though they probably do not recognize it as such, these men have entered Existentialist defeat: the World IS an endless series of cocks forced into every orifice, the World Is a Face pushed down hard into a stained pillow…

I see this, and I ring them up. When I don’t see them anymore it is generally one of two things: they have died a lonely death, or they are at home on the Internet, searching out even harder and harder shit, and vaguely worried about the FBI finally coming to their door…

Making these transactions does not give me Happiness or Purpose: it just gives me the money necessary to stay out of Prison — which is Purpose enough for me. As far as Happiness: there is almost always a woman at the bar at the end of the night who is fascinated by the ex-con bad boy allure. And while our night together isn’t True Happiness, it will do until Change comes…

There is a reason why I tell customers the bathroom is Out of Order...

I am Laslo.

mockturtle said...

They seem to confuse happiness with pleasure.

wild chicken said...

The problem with meaning is when it becomes obnoxious to ones you're trying to "help," or sweet but useless, as in knitting socks for zimbabweans.

whswhs said...

I think mockturtle has it right. When I think of happiness I think of what Aristotle called eudaimonia, which involves activity; for example, writing a good blog post could be a source of eudaimonia. The college students' examples of happiness seem to involve hedone, which is more a passive condition that can be created by another person, or by an external condition. Pleasure by itself is a good thing, but it doesn't bring happiness.

JAORE said...

Geez Laslo.... not funny today... but (as always), worth reading.

William said...

Laslo is quite right in pointing out that enduring happiness cannot be found by watching porn. It does, however, offer some pointers and goal posts. Charlie Sheen put Bree Olson on a yearly retainer to scratch whatever libidinal itches occurred to him whenever they occurred to him. While one might observe that Charley did not achieve lasting happiness, it is also true to observe that he has had a better time on this earth than most of us. Our sensual nature seems to always subvert our spiritual aspirations and vice versa. Charlie, at least for a moment, found a way to yoke those conflicting drives. As the year ends, we should take a moment to reflect on this remarkable man and the achievements of his life.

mockturtle said...

William: You're kidding, right?

kurt9 said...

Meaning is the basis of happiness because true happiness comes from productive accomplishment. Productive accomplishment gives one a feeling of empowerment and it is that feeling of empowerment that all true happiness is derived from.

walter said...

Had to drive from Madison to Minneapolis recently and saw a surprising number of "adult" stores advertised from billboards. In the age of internet, can they really sell enough DVDs and toys or are these places fronts for more lucrative illegal activities? Maybe more peculiar is the number of permanent structure year-round fireworks stores.

Mark said...

People can choose to pursue meaning as well as happiness.

So basically, existentialism is what you are saying. For decades now, this idea of choosing and pursuing and creating your own meaning has not only been floating about, it has taken firm root in society and culture.

Implied in the idea, of course, is that there is no inherent meaning to the human person. That we are not, by nature, created as good and in the likeness of a loving God. Instead, we are essentially empty and must create our own meaning. This is sold to people as "freedom" -- you are free to be whatever you want to be!

The invariable result of this thinking, that you not only can, but must, create your own meaning -- because you have no inherent meaning because there is no God who conferred that meaning on you -- is to conclude that if we are from the start inherently nothing, then we are ultimately nothing. And if we are nothing, then what the hell is the point of existing?

For a while, perhaps, following this way of thinking, some may indulge in fantasies of their being (for example, the fantasy that a man is a woman), but sooner or later existential angst and nihilism set in. And we end up with a culture of death and suicides on the rise.

tcrosse said...

I am reminded of Flakey Foont asking Mr Natural what it all means. Mr Natural had it right, mostly.

mockturtle said...

Mark, you are so right! I'm sorry you have tossed me into the basket of 'POS bigots'. ;-)

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I can guess the mental process these people go through.

"I'm happy! Good God,what am I doing wrong?"

I pity them.

mikee said...

When I was a callow college undergrad student, I followed a path of surreal symbolism, wherein my everyday life was enlivened by the LSD-augmented ramblings of the druggies I knew.

One told me that I was never to take drugs, as I was weird enough without them. Good advice, I have followed it all my life. But drunkcommenting on New Year's Eve doesn't count, does it?