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Happiness Comes & Goes – Finding Your True Meaning In Life Comes Down To 4 Basic Pillars


The ultimate goal in life is being happy, right? This is what we all aim for – finding true happiness. Many people find happiness in having a dream job, great education, popularity, good grades, money for traveling, ideal romantic partner, beautiful home and so on.

Still, many people have managed to achieve all this, and they still feel unfulfilled and empty inside. So, the question is: Is something wrong with our expectations of happiness? Is happiness really a result of an overall success in life? Because clearly something doesn’t add up here.

The suicide rates are higher than ever, and even though people have many options nowadays to succeed and better their lives, still more and more people are feeling depressed, hopeless, and alone.

So, is life more than a strive for happiness?

The writer Emily Esfahani Smith really thinks so. She explains her views and what she has learned from interviewing hundreds of people in the last 5 years and reading extensively books of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience in her powerful TED Talk.

She says that it is not unhappiness that makes people desperate, but the lack of meaning in life. But, what’s the difference between these two: being happy and having a meaning in life?

According to Smith, many psychologists define happiness as feeling comfortable and good in the moment. However, the meaning of happiness goes much deeper than that. The psychologist Martin Seligman thinks that true meaning comes from serving and belonging to something that is beyond yourself.

“Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but I came to see that seeking meaning is the more fulfilling path. And the studies show that people who have meaning in life, they’re more resilient, they do better in school and at work, and they even live longer,” she says.

Moreover, she reveals the 4 pillars that are essential for living a meaningful life.

The 1st pillar is BELONGING.

Belonging is a feeling you get from relationships in which you are valued for who you are at your core, and you value others for who they are as well. However, not all belongings are desired ones. There are some low value belongings where you are valued for who you hate, for what you believe in – not for your authentic self.

 Many people list belonging as their important thing in their life. They find their true meaning through the bonds with their friends, family, and loved ones.

The 2nd pillar is PURPOSE.

Purpose is something different than finding a job that will make you happy. The key to achieving true purpose in life lies in using all your strengths and abilities to serve other people. Many people achieve this through their work, so when they are unemployed they lose themselves.

The 3rd pillar is TRANSCENDENCE.

Transcendence means being in a rare state when you lose all your sense of time and place and you connect to a higher reality. For some people transcendence comes from looking at art pieces. For writers like me, transcendence occurs through the writing process. These moments of experiencing true transcendence can really change you.

The 4th pillar is STORYTELLING.

Or the story that you tell yourself about yourself. “Creating a narrative from the events of your life brings clarity. It helps you understand how you became you. But we don’t always realize that we’re the authors of our stories and can change the way we’re telling them. Your life isn’t just a list of events. You can edit, interpret and retell your story, even as you’re constrained by the facts,” says Smith.

Finally, you should understand that you can heal yourself from any pain and find a new life purpose. You should look at your bad experiences and scars as life lessons that shaped you to become the person you are today. Let the bad in your life be redeemed by the good.