Last Updated 02 Apr 2020

What is the relationship between happiness and meaning?

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The question of life’s meaning and the nature of man’s happiness is a philosophical question. The wish for meaning is a concern of every individual. Human drive and motivation are controlled by passion and the goal to achieve what they hope to conclude as success in order to be happy and contented in life. One can never be happy in the absence of any sense of fulfillment and contentment from any results that may arise from that action. There are several kinds of people in this world if we must define drifters, the meaningless or the empty, and the selfless. Where then in this category do we understand life meaning and its impact to happiness?

The philosophy of life lies on the determination of the meaning of life.  Man fully concedes to the level of happiness preset by his own definition of success and self fulfillment distinguished by acceptance on the limitations and coverage of the meanings of life (Hudson 1996). Man creates and walks in the path of his own destiny compact with the belief and knowledge of what one should strive for along with the practical organization of emotions and interest to the best purpose for self.

The practical man may not be interested in the concept of doing good for the society whose context and meaning of friendship are purely material and commonplace. His interest may focus more on what people can do for him. So any event in his life not in line with his principles creates dissatisfaction and unrest. Philosophy makes man stand firm on principles and values that goes beyond normal understanding of life and the world where sometimes choices are not justified by their consequences.

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This is a matter of individual self fulfillment building meanings around belief creating a philosophy that serve to preprogram and structure life visions and values. The matters of philosophy, meaning, fulfillment and happiness always go hand in hand. Happiness therefore is a matter of participation on something that has worth and value for the person that can in turn give him his personal definition of sense of fulfillment. A lot of people are unhappy because they demanded too much of themselves which made them unable to savor their feelings of pleasure n small accomplishments. Happiness is a degree of fit between a person’s expectations and results towards its extended joy or peace.

We note then that the well being of man comes from how one understand virtue and social implications of daily behavior. Happiness does not revolve around material possessions, good health or good relationships because you may or may not have that and still feel unhappy. Happiness sometimes comes with a life filled with purpose and meaning knowing the source of life and surrendering one’s purpose in living say for example the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Jacobs 1991).  The pursuit of good life ultimately leads to happiness making life meanings a passion that drives one to work selflessly for the well being and happiness of other people.

Sometimes in life people need to realize that losing control and understanding the meaning of it could make a person happy. When one learns to forego and try not to shape events and people into what he wants these people to be then he may see himself happy. The best way to achieve happiness is to stop its pursuit of the inevitable but work one’s way around it. Life’s meaning is derived from self expressions and identity necessary to make life worth living. The meaning of life is contingent on the circumstances of life and is the measure of the nature of happiness of an individual.

Meaning is then is the component of man’s happiness. Losing life’s meaning makes a person feel like a dead man walking in the face of the earth with no goal or direction. Most of the time, people who feel emptiness in their hearts normally ends their life or commits crime hurting other people because they don’t see the value of life.

One may wonder why rich people could very well donate large sums of money like millions of dollars to other people. Selfless giving and knowing true happiness are derived from the meanings that they have set on their lives. Take for example Brad Pitt who donated five million dollars to rebuild New Orleans. You might wonder how one could work so hard to achieve riches and then give it away for the happiness of others. The meaning of selfless giving is the true wisdom of happiness. We say then that happiness is based on the philosophy of life’s meaning. It is very individualistic and sometimes hard to comprehend but it is the true meaning of happiness.


Hudson, D. W. (1996). Happiness and the limits of satisfaction. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman

& Littlefield Publisher Inc.

Jacobs, W. J. (1991). Mother Teresa: helping the poor. Brookfield, Connecticut: Millbrook



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