I came across the following brilliant article the other day (click on picture to go to article).
It is titled “A Lesson About Happiness From A Holocaust Survivor”, in which a psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust explains why meaningfulness is more important than happiness. That psychiatrist is Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search For Meaning”.
I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between his theories and living a life for Christ. The article explains the book’s emphasis on meaning over happiness, the value of suffering, and responsibility to something greater than one’s self. It states: “People whose lives have high levels of meaning often actively seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of happiness. Because they have invested themselves in something bigger than themselves, they also worry more and have higher levels of stress and anxiety in their lives than happy people.”
The article also says “Having negative events happen to you, the study found, decreases your happiness but increases the amount of meaning you have in life.” Frankl states in his book that “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.” On this side of heaven, we will all experience sufferings. Living a life of meaning gives a reason or a purpose to those sufferings. Going through something terrible can make you a huge blessing to someone else that may go through something similar. Our sufferings are God’s way of making us a vessel to help others (live a life of meaning). This is just my opinion, but that thought in itself makes my sufferings much easier to endure.
The article also discusses that happiness is more associated with taking and selfishness, whereas meaningfulness is more associated with giving and selflessness. When I think of Christ’s life as depicted in the bible, at no point was He pursuing happiness. His life was one of meaning, and we are all aware of how He suffered for our salvation. The life of a follower of Christ is meant to be lived trying to be more like Christ…in other words, living a life pursuing meaning (helping others, sacrificing self for the betterment of others, serving a greater purpose (PAPA ❤ )), not happiness (aiming to satisfy our own wants, looking for things that serve ourselves – not something greater).
Another statement in the article gets at the fact that happiness is fleeting, coming and going as we satisfy our current wants and then those wants turn into new wants. Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. Personally, I would much rather live a life of meaning and leave a positive mark on the world than live a life constantly chasing happiness and trying to satisfy my own wants and leaving nothing behind to remember me by. This is not why we are here. We are all here to help each other along, and to love one another. Living a life with these goals in mind will result in a meaningful life, and happiness comes along with that naturally.
The following bible verses further indicate that we are here to pursue meaningfulness, not happiness.
PHILIPPIANS 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.
GALATIANS 5:13 – Through love, serve one another.
ROMANS 12:9-10 – Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
GENESIS 50:20 – You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
ACTS 20:24 – However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
MATTHEW 25:40 – “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
JOHN 13:7 – Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
PHILIPPIANS 2:4 – In humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
When I dedicated my life to Christ, I was told that this was not the easy way – that there would be trials and tribulations along the way, and though ultimately, this will all prepare me for eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17), it’s not all rainbows and ponies. I get it. Basically, living a life for Christ is living a life pursuing meaningfulness, not my own happiness. Seeking out ways to love one another, give to one another, help one another, and suffering in order to be able to help someone going through something similar may not satisfy our own desires, but it will certainly give us an amazing feeling and allow us to live more like Christ which is the ultimate goal of life. Make this Monday meaningful – look for ways to help someone other than yourself today, and when you do just that, thank God for using you for His glory! Happy meaningful Monday, and God bless you! ❤