Our culture is obsessed with the search for happiness. You only have to scroll through Instagram feeds to see this insatiable need to find that thing, that place, that person who will finally give you that feeling.
At the same time we know that happiness is a bit like water, and impossible to hold on to. It quenches your thirst in that moment but soon you need another glassful, another source. We try to find it in the perfect job, life partner, children, home, we look for it in our travels, we try to buy it. And yet I’ve found that you can have all of these things, and be completely happy, but still have that gnawing feeling that something is missing.
What if happiness isn’t the ultimate goal? What if being happy still won’t fill that gap in your soul?
I was intrigued by this TED talk by writer Emily Esfahani Smith, who believes that you need to search for meaning in life instead of happiness. During her studies she found that chasing happiness can make people unhappy. She also found that the suicide rate has reached a 30 year high in America. Why?
“There’s an emptiness gnawing away at people,” explains Smith. “Sooner or later I think we all wonder, is this all there is?”
According to Smith, the search should be for meaning and not for happiness. Serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you, gives you something to hold onto. She breaks it down into four pillars: Belonging,
Purpose, Transcendence and Storytelling.
Watch the video below:
Emily Esfahani Smith is the author of The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness.
Find more at emilyesfahanismith.com