Meaning versus Happiness


What do you wish yourself in your life?


The most common answer is happiness.


In every workshop I deliver, in any studio visit or after lectures, I ask the people I teach or meet what drives them? What makes their hearts tick? What are their goals in life and what so they wish for themselves?


 The most common answer is happiness.


“I want a happy life”, “I wish my children to be happy”, “I wish myself to be surrounded by happy people”.


It is fun to be surrounded by happy people much better than a depressed environment.


It is fun to be happy and have good thoughts about life.


It is much more desirable to hear laughter rather than crying around you.

 What is this happiness that is so popular all over the globe?


 I am travelling  a lot lately, meeting new people on a daily basis, it amazes me that the definition of happiness is so similar in Shanghai, San Antonio, Venice, Kathmandu, Udaipur, Yangon, Miami, Guadalajara and in many other places I recently visited.


If I can summarize it I will say that the definition of happiness is: A time of a euphoric feeling balanced in the right place, with the right people, that generates a satisfying good feeling. 


The pursuit of Happiness is a losing battle, because -


Running after happiness is like climbing a mountain, wishing to stick your flag on the peak, it generates momentary euphoria but what's next?


Next to a mountain peak is an abyss, staying on a mountain peak cannot last forever. There is this moment when the downhill journey occurs naturally because you cannot stay on the top more than a few hours. Most of the Mt. Everest climbers that reached the top stayed there for a few minutes.


I first thought writing this article when a journalist in Kathmandu, during an article he wrote about me, asked if I am happy. I answered that I am happy now but most of my life I am not.


Thinking more deeply about it, I arrived to the conclusion that I am not measuring my life on the happiness scale but rather on the meaning scale. I am trying to live a meaningful life that sometimes contradicts a happy life.

Meaningful means to do something that counts, that remains, that touches other people's lives, that brings good into this world.


Meaningful actions and relations are not peaks but long continuous rails starting from good intentions, proceeding with sharing and culminating in transformation from self to a collective effort to change for the better.

You can be happy alone but you cannot do a meaningful act alone. A meaningful life is about sharing with other people in insights that can make their life better.


Happiness is derived out of dots and meaning is the line that binds them.

Have magic and meaning in your life.


Ted Barr  

2 July, 2016

Ramat Hasharon, Israel