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Researchers are finding that meaning comes from the pursuit of more complex things than happiness.

In 1991, the Library of Congress named Man’s Search for Meaning, by holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl, as one of the 10 most influential books in the United States. It has sold millions of copies worldwide. Now, over twenty years later, the book’s ethos — its emphasis on meaning, the value of suffering, and responsibility to something greater than the self — seems to be at odds with our culture, which is more interested in the pursuit of individual happiness than in the search for meaning.

Frankl wrote, “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy.'”

“Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression,” reports Emily Esfahani Smith in The Atlantic.

(READ more from The Atlantic)


  1. I absolutely love this article, and it is helping shed some light in my own life. I’ve been struggling to get to where I am “happy,” but I feel like a taker more than a giver in some ways. I do give, but not really in the way that feels very satisfying, even if it is for the receiver. Funny too, because here recently I have been trying to think of more ways to give than just giving out money, food, etc. I have been thinking of helping within my community…I’ve known there are several venues but I’ve just never acted. I love the feeling of giving, though, and I think I understand where the author of the article is going with this. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

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