In positive psychology, a meaningful life is a construct having to do with the purpose, significance, fulfillment, and satisfaction of life. While specific theories vary, there are two common aspects: a global schema to understand one’s life and the belief that life itself is meaningful. Meaning can be defined as the connection linking two presumably independent entities together, a meaningful life links the biological reality of life to a symbolic interpretation or meaning. Those possessing a sense of meaning are generally found to be happier, to have lower levels of negative emotions, and to have lower risk of mental illness.
A happy life and a meaningful life are strongly correlated attitudes. However, happiness may be distinguished as relating more to biological needs and desires, such as the absence of pain or unpleasant experiences, while meaning is more cultural and abstract, relating to overall life satisfaction. A study found that difficulty, health, purchasing power, and a focus on the present corresponded more to happiness than meaning, while thinking about the past or the future, struggle, stress, worry, argument, anxiety, generosity, and viewing daily activities such as raising children as reflective of oneself corresponded more with finding life meaningful.
There are so many things going on in our country. In the Bahamas today, we are not even taking the time to care for self, much less others. We seem determined to destroy all that so many great leaders before us have fought so bravely to establish. We are tearing down ourselves, our brothers, our neighborhoods, our communities, and ultimately our world. We appear to have lost that sense of pride and direction, and choose to live in chaos.
Let us stop the madness, acknowledge that we are out of control and seek to return to the path of clarity. We can do this by first reestablishing our homes as places of prayer and teaching. Then we can remember the purposes for school, church and other social agencies and return to our core values. Believe it or not, our lives are bigger than us; there are things to fulfill that will impact future generations. Let us begin to join hands and forces and explore the similarities, rather than differences among us. If you are uncertain or unsure how to make this happen, reach out to the nearest community leader around you and get some assistance. Find that cause for which you are willing to die.
Nelson Mandela once said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we lived. It is what difference we have made to lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”