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The Differences between Happiness and Meaning in Life

by Scott Barry Kaufman

The pursuit of happiness and meaning are two of our most central motivations in life. A wealth of research in positive psychology suggests that happiness and meaning are, in fact, essential elements of well-being. Happiness and meaning are strongly correlated with each other, and often feed off each other. The more meaning we find in life, the more happy we typically feel, and the more happy we feel, the more we often feel encouraged to pursue even greater meaning and purpose. But not always.  An increasing body of research suggests that that there can be substantial trade-offs between seeking happiness and seeking meaning in life.

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