A Life of Happiness or A Life of Meaning?

There comes a time when a man has to ask himself whether he wants a life of happiness or a life of meaning….(they’re) two very different paths…To be truly happy a man must live absolutely in the present. No thought of what has gone before and no thought of what lies ahead… but a for a life of meaning, a man is condemned to wallow in the past and obsess about the future.
Mr. Linderman

[For Hal]


  • But what of the prospect of a life of meanigful happiness? And to find meaning (truth, 7aq..etc) is to be happy. Your contemplative nature is the only source for real happiness. Any other happiness is mundane, untrue (unmeanigful).

  • i think the truly happy part is misquoted. shouldn’t it read “must absolutely live in the present“?

    btw, i had a major case of these paths crossing last night. i’ve been entrenched in the meaning path for so long now, i started to lose sight of my happiness…

  • kadabbi: i think that real happiness described above is by default meaningful. but that’s not the sort of life of meaning we’re talking about i think.

    sean: yup you’re right, thanks for the correction.

    i’d like to live a life of meaning on the weekdays, and a life of happiness on the weekend.

    but i’ll have to budget my time 😀

  • but we never live absoultely in the present. We’re always in a concious and reflective state. Try listening to music by Mozart to enjoy the music. And I mean only listening i.e. being 100%present, not thinking. It’s impossible! Even when you’re trying not to think, you’re thinking about it. We’re always thinking. I guess Linderman believes we are all doomed to a life of meaning 🙁 I would agree.

  • I believe what it intended in Linderman’s statement is happiness as a way of being. A choice we make each day to be happy, each second, being totally present to our choice of happines, no matter the circumstances. To say happiness is a meaningful existence is simply making up that being happy means anything at all. We really put all the meaning in everything we do.

    A man who pursues a life of meaning cannot be present in the moment for he is consummed with decisions from the past… Did I choose the right job? the right wife? Will I ever own the right house? The right car? What do others think of me? What will others think of me? Am I good enough? Will I ever make it? And the answer to all of those is No. It’s what keeps you up at night and not living in the moment during.

    When you live a life of happiness, being present, none of those questions matter. We actually stop thinking of ourselves for once and start connecting with others and actually make a difference in the world.

  • Well well, i find myself in this battle.

    To me it is not that a life of meaning can have no happiness, but that on some sort of sliding scale it is harder to be truly happy.

    Most of us do not ponder this as we walk our path unaware of our position on said sliding scale.

    This does open a can of worms in that the question of what is happiness and is happiness the same for all is raised, in my humble view to a greater or lessor extent happiness is the same for us all and fundamently based on living for the moment.

    The choice between feeding your hunger for a life of meaning and enjoying the place (in your life) that you are currently in is not a choice we all consciencly make and usually most of us fluctuate unknowingly a small amount somewhere on the scale.

    The question is does considering this point allow for us to make an informed decision in our path for meaning or do we naturally, without any thought take the path that on the whole when we look back at our lives we would chose again?

    For me the former but i am sure it will be different for all.

  • To know the truth and to live a meaningful life, one must not only be cognizant of the cruelty that man inflicts upon man and that nature renders upon us all, but one must also be empathetic to and understanding of the masochism of the tortured and the sadism of the torturers. In contrast, in order to be happy, one must be oblivious to these realities. Thus, the truly great life, one that is imbued with meaning and which could ultimately lead to transcendental happiness is a life lived devoted towards relieving the suffering that is the both the scourge of humankind and the path to greater understanding.

Your Two Piasters: