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Home » News

Study shows happiness and meaning in life may be different goals

Article / Review by on January 7, 2014 – 7:01 pmNo Comments

Study shows happiness and meaning in life may be different goals

Would you rather lead a happy life, or a meaningful one? New research suggests that while you can have it both ways, some people find their way along one path or the other. Published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, the study, which surveyed 397 people on their perception of their lives over the course of a month.

Study shows happiness and meaning in life may be different goals

Researchers from Stanford, Florida State University and the University of Minnesota found five differences between participants’ measure of happiness or meaningfulness. Stanford News reports:

“Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker,” [study author and Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Jennifer Aaker, PhD,] said.

One can find meaning in life and be unhappy at the same time.

The unhappy but meaningful life involves difficult undertakings and can be characterized by stress, struggle and challenges. However, while sometimes unhappy in the moment, these people – connected to a larger sense of purpose and value – make positive contributions to society.

Happiness without meaning is characterized by a relatively shallow and often self-oriented life, in which things go well, needs and desires are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided, the report noted.

By Emily Hite
Stanford University Medical Center

Photo by Mike Cogh


* Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions – Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

**  The above story is adapted from materials provided by Stanford University School of Medicine


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