Author Topic: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.  (Read 3128 times)

Offline Solitary

You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« on: April 22, 2015, 11:01:18 AM »
I don't agree with this that without meaning you can't be happy, but I do think your meaning in life comes from within. The only meaning to life in the natural world of life is perpetuation of the species, this doesn't make me happy that I can't now, but I'm still happy most of the time.  :pidu: He! He! Solitary

 
By Gleb Tsipursky
Intentional Insights
Wait, what? Science can’t answer life’s big questions – that’s the job of religious dogma, right? Well, a wave of recent research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and other disciplines has explored how we find meaning and purpose in life, with or without belief in a deity. So we as secular people can use science to fill that emptiness deep in the pit of our stomach that comes from a lack of a personal sense of meaning and purpose. We can use science to answer the question “what is the meaning of life for you?”

Some may scoff at the importance of gaining a rich sense of meaning and purpose. Well, hold off your scoffing. Studies show that people who feel that their life has meaning experience a substantially higher sense of wellbeing and even physical health. For example, Michael F. Steger, a psychologist and Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Meaning and Quality of Life at Colorado State University, found that many people gain a great deal of psychological benefit from understanding what their lives are about and how they fit within the world around them.

His research demonstrates that people who have a sense of life meaning and purpose feel in general more happy as well as more satisfied on a daily level, and also feel less depressed, anxious, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. A deeper sense of life meaning and purpose also predicts better physical health. An increased sense of life meaning and purpose correlates with reduced risk of heart attack, the leading cause of death in the United States, and stroke, another of the top five leading causes of death. With such benefits for mental and physical well-being, it’s no wonder that a strong sense of life meaning and purpose predicts longevity.

According to faith-based perspectives, the meaning and purpose of life is to be found only in God, as exemplified in The Purpose Driven Life (2002), a popular book written by Rick Warren, a Christian mega church leader. But some thinkers disagree with the notion that religion is the only way to find meaning and purpose in life. Jean-Paul Sartre, in his Existentialism and Human Emotions, advances the notions of “existentialism,” the philosophical perspective that all meaning and purpose originates from the individual. Another prominent thinker is Greg Epstein. In his Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, he advocates striving for dignity as a means of finding “meaning to life beyond God.” James Croft draws attention to the importance of secular communities in gaining a sense of life meaning.

So what does research on this issue show? Apparently, the important thing is simply to gain a sense of life purpose and meaning: the source of the purpose itself is not so important. Religion can be one among many channels to help someone gain a sense of life meaning. The pioneer in this field, Victor Frankl, was a Viennese psychiatrist who lived through the Holocaust concentration camps. In his research and work, both in the camps and afterward in private practice, he found that the crucial thing for individuals surviving and thriving in life is to develop a personal sense of purpose and meaning, what he terms the “will-to-meaning.” Frankl’s approach to psychotherapy came to be called logotherapy, and forms part of a broader therapeutic practice known as existential psychotherapy. This philosophically-informed therapy stems from the notion that internal tensions and conflicts stem from one’s confrontation with the challenges of the nature of life itself, and relate back to the notions brought up by Sartre and other existentialist philosophers

These findings fit well with my own research on secular societies. I study how people in the Soviet Union, where my family came from, found purpose, happiness, and fun in life. The Soviet Union is typically perceived as a militaristic and grey society, with a government that oriented all of its efforts to taking over the world. Well, that’s simply not true, as the Soviet authorities put a lot of resources into providing its citizens with opportunities to find meaning and purpose in life, as well as fun and pleasure – although they also certainly wanted to spread communism throughout the world, and put a lot of efforts into this goal as well. Present-day societies with a more secular orientation than the United States have similar stories to tell, as illustrated by research on contemporary Denmark and Sweden.

So where does this leave us? Religion is only one among many ways of developing a personal sense of life meaning and greater sense of personal agency. Based on the research on meaning and purpose, I developed and videotaped a workshop for anyone who wants to learn more on this topic. I also created a free online course, which combines an engaging narrative style, academic research, and stories from people’s everyday lives with exercises to help you discover your own sense of life purpose and meaning from a science-based, humanist-informed perspective. These are part of our broader offerings at Intentional Insights, which aims to help us as reason-oriented people use scientific evidence to live better lives and achieve our goals. The Richard Dawkins Foundation also has plenty of resources to help you find meaning and purpose from a secular perspective, including videos of Russell and Keryn Glasser and Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing the meaning of life for those without belief.
So use science to find your purpose, and let me know about your experience by emailing me at gleb@intentionalinsights.org!
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2015, 11:22:11 AM »
Having a sense if meaning and purpose doesn't have to be on a grand scale, such as God. Being a parent can give people a sense of meaning and purpose. Feeling you provide a useful service, such as being a nurse or chef, can be enough for many people. Some people don't even bother to worry about THE MEANING OF LIFE.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Offline doorknob

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2015, 11:53:21 AM »
I don't know what the meaning of life is, if there even is one. I feel happy with out knowing it so I don't care either.

Every one has a different life goal.

My personal life goal is to die with out regrets. Oh and learn as much as I possibly can while I can!

Offline stromboli

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2015, 12:45:35 PM »
The meaning of life versus finding meaning in your life. We had a thread on this not long ago. They are two different things. The meaning of life, grand scale, is undefined and possibly undefinable in the secular sense. Giving meaning to your life is something else entirely. I give meaning to my life by working towards goals, short and long term, that are beneficial overall. The benefits that accrue over time to society have come from inventors, scientists, doctors, psychologists and great philosophers, not religion.

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2015, 12:58:17 PM »
There is no such thing as THE meaning of life. I should have clarified that.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Offline drunkenshoe

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 01:22:07 PM »
I write 'the meaning of life' on small papers and hide here and there around the apartment, also pockets of various clothes. When I accidentally find them, I run around and scream 'I found the menaing of life! I found the meaning of life!' That's the only available meaning of life, guys. Sorry.

Though things get better if you realise all that at one moment, just after you are nicely fed and masturbated when you are warm and sheltered. Piiih.
"I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are good people and bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides." Havelock Vetinari

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2015, 05:14:55 PM »
With or without any meaning in my life I could never be truly happy while knowing of the vast amount of suffering that happens every second of every day. So I don't seek happiness, rather I seek only to avoid unhappiness.
God Not Found
"There is a sucker born-again every minute." - C. Spellman

Offline Green Bottle

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2015, 05:26:12 PM »
The Meaning of my Life, to make the most of it until it's over. :shifty:
God doesnt exist, but if he did id tell him to ''Fuck Off''

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2015, 06:54:45 PM »
When I hear people say something to this effect: "So we as secular people can use science to fill that emptiness deep in the pit of our stomach that comes from a lack of a personal sense of meaning and purpose."  I wonder, have always wondered, what do they mean?  I have never felt anything close to a deep emptiness in the pit of my stomach--not about the meaning of life, anyway.  Not ever.  Maybe I feel something close to that when a furry child passes, or a close friend or family member--but I call that grief.  Am I happy?  I don't know--don't give a shit, really.  Am I satisfied?  Yeah.  I am.  And content.  Yep.  Joseph Campbell said that the purpose of life is life.  I'm alive--so I've fulfilled that purpose.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline stromboli

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2015, 07:00:00 PM »
When I hear people say something to this effect: "So we as secular people can use science to fill that emptiness deep in the pit of our stomach that comes from a lack of a personal sense of meaning and purpose."  I wonder, have always wondered, what do they mean?  I have never felt anything close to a deep emptiness in the pit of my stomach--not about the meaning of life, anyway.  Not ever.  Maybe I feel something close to that when a furry child passes, or a close friend or family member--but I call that grief.  Am I happy?  I don't know--don't give a shit, really.  Am I satisfied?  Yeah.  I am.  And content.  Yep.  Joseph Campbell said that the purpose of life is life.  I'm alive--so I've fulfilled that purpose.

I can't recall a time in my life when I ever felt I had no purpose being here. I have always centered on what to do and always had a perspective based on larger ideas. If anything, religious people are more narrowly centered and not as actively looking for things as any atheist I have known.

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2015, 08:23:29 PM »
I can't recall a time in my life when I ever felt I had no purpose being here. I have always centered on what to do and always had a perspective based on larger ideas. If anything, religious people are more narrowly centered and not as actively looking for things as any atheist I have known.
Yeah, it's like the theist is wearing blinders and can only see a very narrow band of life.  Atheists don't tend to have blinders.  They can get a full view.  Oh, some may chose to construct their own blinders, but those still usually offer a larger view.  And atheists can give their blinders up much more easily. 
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: You Can't be happy without meaning in your life.
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2015, 09:16:04 PM »
Miserable people always believe everyone else is miserable.

These people filled with hate and self-loathing do not warrant my time, but I do offer them a modicum of sympathy, but only briefly, life it too short to waste on those lost in the self destructive activity of self-loathing
In dog beers I've only had one.