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August 26th, 2013

“The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of…

By Ron Nakamoto

“The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.” – Carl Jung

This interesting article mentions two studies that distinguish happiness from meaning both behaviorally and physiologically.  In the behavioral study led by psychologist Roy Baumeister, "happiness is associated with selfish 'taking' behavior" while meaning is "associated with selfless 'giving' behavior."  This reminds me of the distinctions made by Adam Grant in his recent book "Give and Take" where he makes similar distinctions while demonstrating that givers are more successful than takers.  The physiological study produced counter-intuitive results.  Researchers Barbara Fredrickson and Steven Cole studied how at the genetic level the body responds to feelings of happiness versus meaning.

 "Cole and Fredrickson found that people who are happy but have little to no sense of meaning in their lives…have the same gene expression patterns as people who are responding to and enduring chronic adversity."  This translates to chronic inflammation, which is associated with heart disease and cancer.  "People whose levels of happiness and meaning line up and people who have a strong sense of meaning but are not necessarily happy, showed a deactivation of the adversity stress response."

This study supports the work of Empowered Wealth to build individual mindsets and family culture that combine happiness and meaning.

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Meaning Is Healthier Than Happiness ~ The Atlantic | PathNorth
By: Emily Esfahani Smith, The Atlantic August 1, 2013 | 8:00 AM ET. For at least the last decade, the happiness craze has been building. In the last three months alone, over 1000 books on happiness were released on Amazon, including Happy Money, Happy-People-Pills For All, and, for those just …

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