The Common Good

Meaning, not happiness, should be our pursuit

What is the difference between happiness and meaning?

Many are guilty of confusing the two concepts. There was an excellent article in January’s issue of The Atlantic written by Emily Smith. The title was “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy.” She refers to Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s 1946 book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and she talks about the basic difference between “meaning” and “happiness.”

Sojourners editor Jim Wallis once said, “Is it wrong to have a nice house? No, but do we use that house to be more hospitable? Is it wrong to eat good food? No, but does that good food help us become more generous? Is it wrong to have nice clothes? A nice television? A nice computer? No. No. No. But are we becoming more aware of the world around us and more compassionate toward it? With everything we buy, we need to ask ourselves what type of person we are becoming when we buy it.”