Activities that Lead to a Happier and More Meaningful Life

Do More of This and Less of That and You'll be Happier and Live a More Meaningful Life



Most people's goals and aspirations are fueled by two underlying concepts. These two concepts are happiness and meaning. The reason we go to work and make money is so that we can buy things that will make us happy. Or we go to work to support our family, which gives us meaning and purpose in life.

Roy Baumeister of Florida State University and also the author of Meanings of Life conducted a series of experiments and studies to determine what activities brought happiness and meaning to our lives. As part of the happiness and meaningfulness study, he and his team of Stanford colleagues also determined what activities leaned more towards providing happiness versus meaningfulness and vice versa.

Activities that contribute relatively equally to both happiness and meaningfulness include:

1) Socializing
2) Exercising
3) Working
4) Texting
5) Eating 
6) Buying gifts for yourself
7) Relaxing alone
8) Maintaining the house
9) Cooking
10) Shopping

In theory, do more of the above and you will feel happier and lead a more meaningful life.

Looking for happiness and meaningfulness extremes?

Activities that leaned towards contributing to a more meaningful life include, cleaning, reading for pleasure, meditating, listening, buying gifts for others, and taking care of kids.

Activities that leaned towards contributing to a more happy life include, partying without alcohol, socializing, party with alcohol, exercising, texting and surprisingly working.

Roy's study discovered the underlying reasons why the above activities contribute to ones' happiness versus lead to a more meaningful life.

In general meaningfulness is associated with doing things for others. Happiness is associated with others doing things for oneself. Engagement with others that sacrifices the self or that builds relationships over time contributes to meaningfulness, but it has a negligible or negative link to happiness. 

In other words, do more for others if you want to have a more meaningful life. Do more for yourself if you want to be happy. Or kills two birds with one stone and do activities that provide both happiness and meaning. 

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