It’s not just about trying to be happy.
“Redefine your story by redemption, growth, and love.”
Considering the perpetual society we live in, we tend to neglect the present moment and instead constantly strive for the ideal future. Admittedly, this realization only came to mind recently when I experienced loss in life- a true test of purpose and meaning. I had previously lived my life constantly working and going to class, saving up and striving towards a glorified future. This future consisted of a specified money goal, a change in career and location, and pure happiness. With only the future and a seemingly unattainable bliss in mind, I paid no attention to my current mental well being or the state of happiness I was in. Emily Esfahani Smith’s lecture, “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” truly hit home as I could relate to the bold pillars of a meaningful life.
1. BELONGING – develop relationships
2. PURPOSE – focus on the moments leading to your goals
3. TRANSCENDENCE – What moments bring you existential happiness
4. STORYTELLING – Redefine your story
“Happiness comes and goes… Having meaning gives you something to hold on to.”
There is more to life than being happy. Smith discussed the 4 major pillars of a meaningful life to be: belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling.
With this structure in mind, I became aware of the imbalance of these 4 factors and prioritized my efforts on having a sole purpose in life, which was to earn money and a degree. Money and a degree were the gateway to happiness, and thus a meaningful life. Truthfully, this thought still lingers, but it would be an unrealistic expectation to digest the grandness of the meaning of life at once. I believe Smith’s 4 pillars provides an ethical resolution to defining the meaning of life, yet it lacks the difficulty of finding a balance between each.
As I noted before, I prioritized having a purpose compared to building valuable relationships or redefining my important experiences to change the direction of my life. Part of this incessant drive towards a better future led me to forget the present moment and life that was passing in front of me. I had lost chances and time in my life to find happiness with the situation I was in. After experiencing loss, I noticed that life is shorter than expected and the time we have is valuable. Despite the feeling of unfulfillment in my life now, I should continue to cherish the other aspects such as developing relationships or shaping a new perspective on life. Valuing the time in the present moment and changing the way you look at your current situation, whether it is bad or good, is how to live a meaningful life.
As always, thanks for stopping by.