Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

In pursuit of happiness – part 2

Yesterday’s blog mentioned the 3 basic alternatives for living a happy life: the pleasant life, the life of engagement and the meaningful life. These 3 lives do not exclude each other. All of these 3 lives may even be combined in 1 person. When I look back then I see that most of my life was a life of engagement, during a brief period I pursued a pleasant life, and now it’s all about a meaningful life. My current way of living gives me my greatest life satisfaction ever. Each new day is a blessing.

I have nothing to prove anymore to anyone. I have achieved everything I ever dreamt of. I have no regrets, no remorse and no guilt. My mind is free to wander into any direction of interest to me. To date, the 7 Belief systems (Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth) constitute my inner compass. I haven’t found any other topic which one would be willing to die for.

Each new blog that I write aims to support at least 1 person. That alone would give ample meaning to each new day. I would be immensely proud if my legacy of 300+ blogs would be helpful to others for years to come. I suppose that is the essence of living a meaningful life.

I have never been particularly good in living a pleasant life. In my case, the satisfaction of any pleasure is short-lived. It’s impossible for me to keep adding additional pleasures to maintain – let alone increase – my level of satisfaction. Somehow I relate well to the famous Rolling Stones song “I can’t get no satisfaction”. Living a life of (hedonistic) pleasures is clearly not meant for me.

For many years, I have lived a life of engagement and usually that life was quite fulfilling although subconsciously I did feel that something was missing. At times the question popped up: “Is that all there is?” Apparently, that same question has been a hit song for various people (Wiki). Obviously, this mere fact already implies that many of us struggle with that same question.

Martin Seligman has asked thousands of people the question “to what extent does the pursuit of pleasure, the pursuit of positive emotion, the pleasant life, the pursuit of engagement, time stopping for you, and the pursuit of meaning contribute to life satisfaction?” (TED)

Seligman: “And our results surprised us, but they were backward of what we thought. It turns out the pursuit of pleasure has almost no contribution to life satisfaction. The pursuit of meaning is the strongest. The pursuit of engagement is also very strong. Where pleasure matters is if you have both engagement and you have meaning, then pleasure’s the whipped cream and the cherry. Which is to say, the full life — the sum is greater than the parts, if you’ve got all three. Conversely, if you have none of the three, the empty life, the sum is less than the parts.” (TED)

To me, the conclusion of Dr Martin Seligman makes perfect sense now that I experienced all 3 basic alternatives for living a happy life. Nevertheless, I think and feel that living a meaningful life requires even “more”: less is more. The more ballast I get rid of in life, the more satisfaction I feel. Today, my main fear is selling out on what I now have, do and feel.

Obviously, less is more has a clear link to consumerism and ecology. To be continued………

The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1965) – artists, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Peggy Lee – Is That All There Is? (1969) – artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Paul Weller – Headstart For Happiness (1984) – artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

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