There’s a great article from The Atlantic which ties into the recent piece I wrote about euthanasia and hedonism. And it quotes Viktor Frankl extensively, so there was no way I was not going to link to it. It turns out that the perspective of pleasure / pain (happiness) on one axis and meaning on another now has some research to back it up:
In a new study, which will be published this year in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Positive Psychology, psychological scientists asked nearly 400 Americans aged 18 to 78 whether they thought their lives were meaningful and/or happy. Examining their self-reported attitudes toward meaning, happiness, and many other variables — like stress levels, spending patterns, and having children — over a month-long period, the researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a “taker” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver.”
“Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided,” the authors write.
I had a really hard time picking just one quotation because the article is so full of good observations, so definitely check it out to read more.