GIVE UP THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS … AND LOOK FOR MEANING INSTEAD
Success Stories Viktor Frankl could be called a leading expert on the topic. Frankl lived through the Holocaust in a concentration camp and saw firsthand how humans deal with unhappy circumstances. As a respected psychiatrist, his observations became the basis for his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl found that the people who stood the best chance of surviving the horrific experience were those who found some sort of meaning for their lives, even in the bleakest conditions. For Frankl, this meant providing therapy to others in the camp. As Frankl describes, once a person finds meaning, he knows the “why” for his existence, and he will be able to bear almost any “how.” How many books have you seen with the word “happiness” in the title? A lot, right? It’s such a popular topic because the pursuit, journey, and, ultimately, achievement of happiness is supposed to be the key to a fulfilling life. Happiness is the ultimate human condition; reaching it is our purpose and will bring us contentment. But before you pick up that guide to happiness, there’s some new data you need to pay attention to. Turns out, we’ve been focusing on the wrong goal. More and more research is supporting the benefit of pursuing a meaningful life over a happy one.
In the years since “Man’s Search for Meaning” was written, it seems we’ve forgotten a lot of its advice. The Centers for Disease Control found that 4 out of every 10 Americans do not have a satisfying life purpose, and yet, 60 percent of Americans say they are happy. What gives? It comes down to the pursuit of happiness versus pursuing meaning in life. It’s the difference between “I’m going to buy this dress because it will make me happy” and “I’m going to volunteer at a shelter because it will be meaningful.” Happiness involves satisfying an immediate need, whereas finding meaning focuses on making choices that give us a sense of purpose. Even more telling, the Journal of Positive Psychology found that meaningful acts usually involve giving, but reaching happiness often means taking. Because of this, leading a meaningful life, while often more challenging, is also more satisfying. Is it possible that the pursuit of a meaningful life will lead us to happiness? Absolutely. Just don’t expect it to be an everlasting condition. Think of happiness the way psychologist Frank T. McAndrew does: “Recognizing that happiness exists — and that it’s a delightful visitor that never overstays its welcome — may help us appreciate it more when it arrives.”
WHAT OUR PATIENTS ARE SAYING ...
“My experience here was wonderful! I have learned so much. Before I came here, I was in continuous pain. I feel so much better now, and I have the know-how on what to do if I run into trouble. Everyone here is so knowledgeable. My previous experience with physical therapy was far from what I have received here, and I will pass this on to anyone who is looking for a place to go. I have posted my happy reviews on Yelp already. Thank you all for your help!” “I arrived at Professional Physical Therapy living with daily back pain and an inability to participate in physical activity. I leave here after receiving fantastic attention to my physical symptoms and limitations in flexibility. Four months later, and after many appointments, I’ve gained so much confidence in my body. My pain has dissipated to very little, if any. My flexibility has increased dramatically, and I’m now able to participate in the sports I love. With a thoughtful maintenance plan, I leave here with confidence and a smile. Thank you so much!” –April Day Kelly –Christopher Lund
“As a frequent flyer at Professional Physical Therapy, I knew who to call for help when I started to have neck and arm pain while training for my first Ironman. Alex, Sue, and Amber worked hard to keep me training, and I was able to complete my first Ironman almost pain-free! If you need a team to change the wheels while the car is moving, this is your team. Thanks again!” “When I started, my right ankle was, for the most part, useless. I had a lot of pain walking, and stairs were a nightmare. The staff at Professional Physical Therapy listened and came up with a program of treatment and exercise to meet my needs. I’m happy to say that I am now almost pain-free. I am able to walk, golf, and take the stairs without thinking about possible pain. Thank you, everyone at Professional Physical Therapy. Great job!” –Nancy Gomes
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