A Happy and Meaningful Life

Not surprisingly, satisfaction of desires was a reliable source of happiness. But it had nothing — maybe even less than nothing ­— to add to a sense of meaning. People are happier to the extent that they find their lives easy rather than difficult. Happy people say they have enough money to buy the things they want and the things they need. Good health is a factor that contributes to happiness but not to meaningfulness. Healthy people are happier than sick people, but the lives of sick people do not lack meaning. The more often people feel good — a feeling that can arise from getting what one wants or needs — the happier they are. The less often they feel bad, the happier they are. But the frequency of good and bad feelings turns out to be irrelevant to meaning, which can flourish even in very forbidding conditions.

At Aeon, psychology professor Roy Baumeister talks through the differences of living a happy life and living a meaningful life, which doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand. Does money bring happiness to a life? Yes. Does money bring meaning to a life? No, but it can help. As we like to say here, money isn’t the goal, life is—money just helps you figure out how to live the life you want to live.

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