Optimise Your Life For Meaning, Not Happiness

Meaning is the new happiness

Thomas Oppong
5 min readOct 16, 2022


Artwork: The Three Philosophers/1508/Giorgione/Public domain

Happiness is an emotion that usually comes in waves. One day you’re feeling happy, and the next, it’s gone. Pursuing happiness can be difficult, especially for those with anxiety tendencies.

Pursuing happiness means constantly shifting your focus from one thing to another to find that elusive sense of fulfilment.

Many people become so focused on this pursuit that they lose sight of what they truly value and care about. When we constantly shift our focus and prioritise different things in life, it creates confusion and stress.

As much as we try to avoid them, stress and anxiety are two of the biggest contributors of keeping us in unhappiness. We don’t know what we need because we don’t know what we truly want. Usually, this causes us to feel stressed out and overwhelmed — a vicious cycle, if you will.

What if instead of focusing on happiness, you optimise your life for meaning? Finding meaning in life means bringing back the spark that once motivated you to do things and see them through to the end.

Pursuing meaning is the pursuit of something beyond ordinary happiness. Meaning refers to things of subjective significance, and it’s not something you can easily define or measure.

Meaning makes us human, not just a collection of physical or intellectual attributes. It’s a feeling that comes from our deepest desires and strongest convictions. Pursuing meaning means looking for what really matters to you and making those experiences your way of life.

Research shows that people engaged in meaningful activities are more likely to be happier and more satisfied with their lives overall.

“When people explain what makes their lives meaningful, they describe connecting to and bonding with other people in positive ways. They discuss finding something worthwhile to do with their time. They mention creating narratives that help them understand themselves and the world. They talk about mystical experiences of self-loss,” explains Emily Esfahani Smith in her book, The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters.



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Thomas Oppong

Author | Habits, Philosophy & Psychology. As seen on Forbes, Inc. and Business Insider. For my popular essays, go here: https://thomasoppong.com

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