Monday, October 7, 2013

Meaning Making

There was an article I read a bit ago that my sister posted on fb, but it has since dropped from her timeline and I do not remember the name of it.  It was talking about some research that was done about how people find happiness in their lives.  The article described three ways that people draw happiness into their lives.

  • Participating in activities that bring a person pleasure.  It is indulgent on the senses.
  • Spending time with family and friends in ways that cultivate healthy, positive relationships that are fulfilling.  It is about quality social engagement.
  • Engaging in work that is satisfying and meaningful and contributes to something larger than themselves as an individual.  This may be through work or volunteering in the community.
The article explained that the first one seemed more surface and that the second two seemed to garner greater depth of happiness.  That seems to make sense.  It easily falls in line with the theories about external and internal motivation and how internal motivation is more powerful.  But, it also doesn't mean that there is only one way to embrace happiness in life. There are multiple sources and it may be good to have a mix of them, too.  But, I also think about what is within your control.  If one of these options is less within your control, it could become a source of frustration.  Maybe when things get out of control, then it may be time to take a healthy step back and seek happiness with one of the other avenues.  A person may be drawn more to one of these sources to experience happiness, but a person does not to have to confine themselves to only one way.  It may be healthy to stretch oneself to experience pleasure from something that may be slightly away from the usual source of comfort.

I've been thinking a lot about my personal happiness and desire to make meaning with my life.  It's back to legacy building and I want my life and my time here to have meant something.  I'm not sure if I will have the opportunity to have a child, so I search for something else in which to pour my heart and soul.  Just in case motherhood does not happen for me, I feel compelled to do something with myself in the mean time, just in case.

It has been five years this month when everything came crashing down around me.  The mess was well within the works, but it was in the fall just before Halloween that the surreal became my harsh, cruel reality.  Five years of rebuilding...going back to school, juggling several part-time jobs, searching for a new job, moving many times to make a new home for myself, rebuilding a support network, making new friends, saying good-bye to some, trying to keep in touch with others as our lives take separate paths, taking risks, living more aware and freely, landing my first full-time job in my new career, getting that first year under my belt, learning to love again, getting my heart broken, trying to be more in the moment, learning to trust myself, relearning to trust others, taking that risk in love yet again, and refocusing on the now and the blessings I have and not what was or wished to be.  It has been a long time and in many ways I continue on the journey of rebuilding, but I will never have what I once had...both a loss and a gift.

My point is that I have been in almost a survival mode that tries to find some semblance of balance in appreciate the little things and the wonderfully big blessings.  I have grown tired and I long for a break or breakthrough.  In some ways, I want all of these efforts in rebuilding to mean something.  I know myself and I take great pride in my work.  It is more than just a job for me.  But, I need balance, too.  My work cannot be my everything because only so much is in your control and I do not want to depend on someone else for my happiness.  So, now I try to temper my efforts at work and awaken the other paths to happiness...through relationship and pleasure.  I've focused so much on the work part, it can be difficult to take that much needed step back.

I have to give myself permission to be more than...


  1. I'm doing a bit of catch-up reading. And I really like this "Maybe when things get out of control, then it may be time to take a healthy step back and seek happiness with one of the other avenues." That's good advice.

  2. Thank you! And thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. It is appreciated.