Searching for Meaning

I was recently talking with a friend about happiness.  She too has been through loss.

She shared a book with me by Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.  I haven’t read it yet, but she gave me the cliff notes.

Apparently happiness isn’t about how big your house is.  It’s not necessarily about your career, although it could be.  It’s not even solely based on who you love or who loves you back.  According to Frankl, true happiness comes from meaning.

Occasionally, I get the itch to go immerse myself in a community somewhere in the world that could really use a great YMCA director.  Sometimes I long to go.  To move into a mud hut with new mud hut buddies to help make their lives better.

As if me as a next door neighbor in the middle of the jungle could help.  The first sign of monsoon season or an anaconda and my behind would be on a flight back home.  And maybe it’s not them who need to be helped.  Perhaps it’s me.  It flabbergasts me when I see really poor people in the world laughing and having fun.  They must have meaning.

I believe I fear the loss of meaning.  How do you find it when your kids grow up?  If it is built around career, what happens when you retire or lose your job?  What if your purpose is to care for an ailing parent or a sick spouse?  What becomes of happiness when they no longer need you?

My friend and I discussed whether meaning was different for people of faith.  It probably should be.  Faith certainly helps me get through this life.  And yet, I’m no Mother Teresa.


I guess I need to stop trying to define happiness by belongings, or the size of my paycheck, or the number of friends I have.  Instead, my focus should be on what I’m doing to make life better for others.  Maybe that’s where I’ll find MY greatest joy.

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  1. Hi Danny this is a great and important post. Your true Joy and Happiness comes from knowing that you have all you need within you. There is a constant steam of well being. As humans we often paint layers of protective untruths that mask this.

    Take away these untruths, notice them only but don’t identify with them, then you allow all the joy possible to you.

    Take a look at this for a more eloquent understanding……….

    Very best wishes


  2. Lovely post!

  3. Enjoyed reading!

  4. For some time as a child, we were very poor, but I don’t remember ever being unhappy. We had a home filled with laughter and love and that’s all that mattered. True happiness is found not in material things, but in the things that you can’t see.

  5. carlacram

     /  July 15, 2015

    Wonderful post!

  6. The thing about happiness is it is a feeling. Feelings come and go. I’m a very moody person by nature. I can be happy, sad, angry a hundred times in any given day. But I have a good life. I have a very good life. The more I try to direct what I do toward others, the more meaningful my life is. The more self absorbed I become, the more miserable I become. My boys are adults now. They still call me. They still value my opinion. I’m still their mom. We just don’t live together anymore. Well except my #1 son is with me for the moment and it’s fun to have him as a “roommate”. Companionship is a good thing. 😊

    • Danny Tanner

       /  July 19, 2015

      I think you’re right – help others and you benefit. Weird.

  7. Hacoobei

     /  July 16, 2015

    I read the book years ago. It’s definitely a book that’ll make a lasting impression.

  8. a lot of truth in here.

  9. Thank you for this lovely post… I have been feeling lost for a while and this has made me think again. I love how people can make a difference in the lives of others. Please post again!

    • Danny Tanner

       /  July 19, 2015

      You are kind. I hope it helps. I too get inspired by others on a quite frequent basis.

  10. Very true.

  11. rachfox88

     /  July 30, 2015

    I’ve just started my own family blog and discovered this blog through the family reccomendations, I love it , every single one of the posts are so lovely and full of emotion (a good thing) , thank you xx

  12. Absolutely! I think the more we learn to look within and listen to the voice of our spirit, the more we understand the difference between chasing happiness (in a superficial way) and finding peace. This is the first blog I’ve read of yours after seeing it as a recommendation – the title of my first post (which was just yesterday) is also inspired by Man’s Search for Meaning. (Maybe you’d like to drop by my blog?)


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