Mindfulness and meaningfulness are two different approaches to life. The first is focused on the present, while the second takes a broader view of what is going on in your life. There are many differences between these two concepts—what happiness means vs. what meaningfulness means, how they make you feel, and how each of them impacts our lives.
What is the difference between happiness and meaningfulness?
Mindfulness involves focusing on the present, which is a key factor in happiness. Happiness is characterized by people satisfying their wants and needs in each moment, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate or contribute to a meaningful life.
On the other hand, meaningfulness involves thinking more about the past, present, and future—and the relationship between them. In addition, happiness is seen as fleeting, while meaningfulness seems to hold value for longer.
Why do people pursue happiness?
Because of this perception of time surrounding these two concepts, people may pursue happiness because they believe it will improve their current situation by filling a void or fixing something in their lives that isn’t ideal.
Happiness derived through mindfulness can relieve stress and emotions like depression or anxiety when you feel overwhelmed with life’s challenges. It also helps us appreciate what we have instead of focusing on our flaws and imperfections, which improves self-esteem.
Why do people pursue meaningfulness?
Giving to others is the source of meaning; receiving from others is the source of happiness.
When we focus on meaningfulness rather than happiness, it shifts our perspective from “What’s in it for me?” to “How can I contribute to others?”
This change in focus leads to a more fulfilling life as we feel like we are making a difference and connecting with others.
How does each make you feel?
Pursuing happiness has been associated with health, wealth, and ease in life.
Happiness often makes us feel excited while pursuing activities that make us happy, such as eating our favorite food, achieving a goal, or spending time with friends.
These experiences make us feel good and bring a sense of joy to our lives. Still, happiness is not the thing we all seek; rather, meaning catches our attention—and it seems to carry more weight when considering what matters most: your inner peace and contentment.
Although social connections are linked to both happiness and meaning, happiness is linked to receiving the benefits of social connections and time with friends; meanwhile, those who spend more time with loved ones – the self-proclaimed “givers” (for example, parents) – are believed to lead more meaningful lives rather than happier ones.
Meaningful actions and choices often bring fulfillment since you feel that you matter in the world—which is ultimately what we all want deep down inside.
Some examples of meaningful efforts include helping friends in need, making positive contributions to society through your career or volunteer efforts, and spending time with family.
The reason for this difference is that when we do something for meaning, it’s not just about ourselves. Still, meaningfulness generally means putting others first, which can be emotionally and mentally demanding.
Focusing on meaning in life can give rise to greater stress and challenges, higher levels of anxiety and worry, and lower happiness levels. This suggests that engaging in more demanding or difficult experiences beyond oneself or pleasures promotes meaningfulness but not happiness.
How do each impact our lives?
Both happiness and meaningfulness are important in different ways.
For instance, those who care about self-expression and do things to express who they are may have a higher sense of meaning in life. So, it may come as no surprise to learn that those who consider themselves intelligent, enlightened, or creative typically also experience more meaning than happiness.
That said, without happiness, life would be one big drag. We wouldn’t have much motivation to do anything that would benefit us or others around us if we didn’t feel any joy from doing so.
Still, when things get tough, meaningfulness keeps us going. It involves thinking more about the future and how our actions today can have an impact down the road, inspiring us to pursue activities that may be challenging but are ultimately beneficial to ourselves and others.
Then again, if we didn’t have a drive for true happiness in our lives, then all the suffering and challenges associated with meaningfulness wouldn’t be worth it.
This is all suggests that the two may be more mutually inclusive than their definitions or differences suggest. And the answer to which you should pursue or prioritize depends on your individual goals and priorities in life. No matter what, it’s important to remember that both are valuable and can contribute to a fulfilling life.
KAP Can Help You Move Forward With Mindfulness & Meaning
KAP can help shift the mind calmly with low doses in a monitored setting. The shift in mindset can foster change and healing to take place. During a psychotherapy session, patients can experience a shift in consciousness and an expanded state of awareness. This may translate to improved enjoyment of life, a renewed sense of connections in relationships, and overall positive mood elevation. Book your KAP consultation today!