Often when people reach out for psychological support, they have a wish to feel happier. Happiness is a feeling just like any other feeling which means that there is no stable state of happiness. Happiness is not an ascending curve but it arises from a random balance of low and high, joy and sorrow, success and failure. In order to experience joy, one must know what grief means.
Researchers in positive psychology talk about happiness separately from meaning. Even if it’s not nice all the time, life can feel meaningful when you are able to make choices that fit your values or benefit others.
We know from studies that belonging to a group, caring for others, and routines add to the sense of meaning. Here are five interesting facts about the significance of life.
- Is there a purpose in your life? This big question can be approached more casually: Do the things you do on a daily basis feel relevant? The research shows that people who ask themselves this question frequently feel the sense of significance more often.
- People who consciously accommodate things they consider relevant to their daily lives are more satisfied and also feel the purpose more broadly in their lives. For example, valuing the family does not yet increase well-being and importance unless one also gives time to the family.
- Social relationships, loved ones and friends are important matters that bring significance to life. Belonging to different hobby groups and other groups also strengthens self-esteem and a sense of control and meaning in life.
- Helping and caring for others is related to a sense of meaning. The subject does not have to be human: in a U.S. survey, about three out of four pet owners between the ages of 50 and 80 said the animal brings purpose to life.
- Even everyday routines can maintain the meaning of life. There seems to be more sense in the world when there are predictable connections between things. Subjects’ sense of significance is unknowingly fueled by even simple clues, such as pictures of seasons presented in a logical order or related words.
Significance of life is different than happiness but they are strongly related to each other. Happiness is often boosted by doing things one finds meaningful and relevant and therefore by living our life according our values and doing relevant things on daily basis we can live perhaps a happier life also in the long run.
Vilhelmiina Välimäki is a Clinical Psychologist at Willingness Clinic. She works both with children and adults. You can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 79291817