My brother Greg has been talking to me about this of late.
He’s been reading Sex Money Happiness and Death: The Quest for Authenticity by Manfred Ket de Vries, a psychoanalyst who’d spoken to many wealthy, successful people who did not feel happy. In this book, Manfred talks about finding meaning in life.
Greg, who graduated from university with an honours degree in psychology has always been interested in human behaviour.
He said to me today that some people detach themselves from pain because they want to numb themselves from sadness, but in the process, they give up on feelings of happiness, since in life, both come together as a package.
He also shared that many people won’t readily admit this, but people all live for someone or something else. It could be a pet, a spouse, parents or children, or even a passion, and this responsibility gives meaning to living.
So in his book, Manfred breaks down happiness into three very simple ingredients:
Someone to love
Something to do
Something to hope for
I would love to go into greater detail but I have yet to lay my hands on a copy. I’m sure it’s a fabulous read, since my bookworm brother has endorsed it.
Of course a meaningful life means different things to different people, and our day can be made up of a series of meaningful acts… it just depends on what we consider meaningful, and what completes us as a person.
To me, friends and family make my life meaningful, as does writing, educating, raising awareness of environmental/vegetarian issues, eating healthily… and chocolate (as you can tell from my t-shirt!) and these things keep me happy in life.
If we acknowledge and appreciate all of the things that give our lives meaning, we would certainly be much happier people!