Beyond Happiness and Meaning
Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior
A recent survey reports that nearly one in five business school students are willing to sacrifice more than 40 percent of their salary to work for a responsible employer. Some will work for nonprofits where they are committed to the cause. Others seek positions consistent with social entrepreneurship through start-up companies and other entrepreneurs to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues.
Why do millennials seek out purpose in their employment? I believe it’s because each of us is searching for happiness and greater meaning in life and our jobs provide one of the best sources to enhance our well-being.
Writing in the Journal of Positive Psychology, Roy Baumeiser and his colleagues, contend that meaningful lives generate positive emotions, and they deepen social connections, such as by allowing us to devote time to worthwhile causes, which increases our satisfaction with life and leads to more lasting happiness.
In writing about issues related to self, self-esteem, and belongingness, Baumeister suggests that questions about meaning are really about meaningfulness. Meaningfulness seems to entail a value judgment, or a cluster of them, which in turn implies a certain kind of emotion. When it comes to making life meaningful, people need to find value that casts their lives in a positive light, justifying who they are and what they do.
Emily Esfahani Smith writes in her book The Power of Meaning that there are four pillars that help people find meaning in life. The following is a brief description of each pillar:
- When we are understood, recognized, and approved of by those closest to us, it makes us feel like we belong to a community. Many people count their relationships as the most meaningful part of their lives, even when relationships are difficult or strained.
- When we have long-term goals in life that reflect our values and serve the greater good, we tend to think that our activities have more meaning.
- When we understand relevant experiences in our life, we can begin to define who we are.
- When we rise above, or transcend, our own needs, we can engage in behaviors that benefit others.
The essential point Smith makes is that by nurturing our relationships and serving others we can bring greater meaning to our lives. We should seek out activities that enable us to not only achieve happiness and meaning for ourselves but also enhance the well-being of others. It is through our actions and interactions that we gain meaning. We can also promote greater civility in society.
I write about all these issues in my new book, Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior. I show how living your life through ethical values can enhance meaning – make you feel good about what you are doing; contribute to the betterment of society and create the foundation for a life well-lived.
Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on May 14, 2019. Visit Steve’s website and sign up for his newsletter. Follow him on Facebook and “Like” his page.
My book will be available for sale on Amazon and other outlets in June. Visit my website for information or my Facebook page.