science of happiness | wellbeing blog

The Science of Happiness 6: Meaning and Fulfillment

In the grand tapestry of the Science of Happiness series, we’ve explored the intricate dance of oxytocin’s bonds, serotonin’s nods of recognition, endorphins’ healing embrace, and dopamine’s pursuit of more.

The journey has been elevation of awareness and refining the quality of these happiness-inducing elements.

Now, we delve into the heartbeat of a fulfilled existence: Meaning. Beyond the transient highs, meaning is the compass steering us toward enduring fulfillment.

Having a Why

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.


When you know why you do certain things and what truly matters to you, you will persist in any failures and rejections until you reach the desired result.

Viktor E. Frankl’s vision for writing a book about the meaning of human life provided him with the resilience to survive the unimaginable adversity of the Holocaust.

His masterpiece “Man’s Search for Meaning” describes a path from despair to profound meaning and is one of the most influential books in the world. Frankl’s life story is a testament to the transformative power of purpose.

He believed that man does not need a tensionless, calm, and quiet  life “but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.” This is where deep fulfillment is drawn from.

Wouldn’t you agree with Viktor E. Frankl that happiness isn’t the purpose of life? It is a life without the purpose and tension that makes us unhappy and causes mental issues.

Moreover, seeking immediately accessible pleasure leads, especially the young generation, to emptiness and meaninglessness, resulting in depression, aggression, and addictions, not just smoking but drugs or pornography. 

Fame and Wealth

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Respected and desired fame or wealth alone cannot give contentment or satisfaction either. 

On the contrary, as we know from numerous stories of famous stars, fame and wealth can be destructive if one lives without a higher purpose and meaning.

The satisfaction from even an extraordinary achievement, like becoming famous, a star, or winning a contest, is very short-lived.

The true satisfaction of success doesn’t come from achieving your goals at all but from struggling well for it.

Meaning and Longevity

You can also notice how quickly old people deteriorate mentally and physically without a task or a role in society. On the other hand, paid or voluntary work gives high satisfaction and fulfillment even in old age and keeps one mentally fit. 

This contradicts the widely distributed desire to slow down and do nothing after retirement. 

Therefore, the best preparation for healthy longevity is picking up physical activities (especially weight training) and hobbies and engaging yourself early enough in meaningful (voluntary) activities. 

Healthy and happy longevity comes from keeping yourself busy in a meaningful way!

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Ways to create meaning 

Notably, the meaning doesn’t exist in our lives unless we create it. 

Viktor E. Frankl describes three main ways of creating meaning in life:

  1. Work or deed when you do something meaningful for yourself and others. This raises your self-respect and social status.
  2. Experiencing something or encountering someone – connecting with someone or something like nature, culture, or other beauty, and, especially, loving them.
  3. The attitude we take to unavoidable suffering – you can endure suffering (apply the innate painkiller) if you find your meaning.
    You can stand painful workouts to improve your fitness, endurance, and strength. You can abstain from food to improve your health and longevity, from sleep if you care for your child or loved one, and so on. 

Fulfillment in the Workplace

Recently I took a taxi in the beautiful city of Munich. The young driver was originally from the Near East. We spoke about his life in Germany.

He came to Germany with his family to find a safer and better life. He quit his training as a chef because this profession could not offer him financial security. But he was happy with his current job because of a good and stable income that pays his bills

Also, older generations didn’t have many demands regarding work and the workplace. The security of the job and income was what counted. 

But nowadays, we have a lot of expectations about the job, managers, colleagues, company culture, benefits, and career opportunities. Those expectations lead to disappointments at work when we expect something to be done for us. 

This is especially because, while focusing on disappointment and frustration, we fail to see the advantages such as stable income, financial security, having good colleagues, and so on.

As we spend most of our wake time in the workplace, happiness from work plays a huge role. Therefore, it is in our interest to proactively and sustainably create meaning and happiness in the three ways mentioned above:

  • creating value – deliver high-quality work
  • connecting with colleagues and/or clients
  • managing personal attitude and disappointment about the situation at work

Managing Disappointment

Proactively managing disappointment is deeply satisfying.

The origin of disappointment is our expectations. 

Every day, as soon as we get up, we have many points on our agenda that we want to get done. In this daily race, we (our minds) unconsciously assume many conditions to be fulfilled and things to work. 

But those assumptions or predictions often do not work, and we get annoyed, disappointed, and even frustrated.

In this way, you avoid disappointment and raise your overall satisfaction.

You can raise your awareness about default assumptions and disappointments. Then, consider the probability of things going wrong proactively and realistically, like the flight being delayed or even canceled or a promise not being kept. 

The Greatest Accomplishment and Greatest Reward

You can notice and work on any disappointments step-by-step. 

Each time you feel stressed or frustrated, you can learn what matters to you, set goals, make plans, and take steps to achieve them because:

Evolving is life’s greatest accomplishment and its greatest reward

Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio learned to love his struggles on his way to building the most successful financial investment company. 

He concluded and applied it as his work and life principle that the glimpse of happiness from achieving a goal that is, anyway, very short cannot compare with the satisfaction of struggling well to achieve it.

So, accepting challenges as a possibility for growth opens a path to greater fulfillment in your life.

Hypnotherapy uses the potential of the unconscious mind that is far greater and more powerful than your rational mind.
It can help you gain deep comprehension, mobilize innate resources, and transform your thinking and behavior in a short time.
Book a free discovery call where we discuss your personal situation and desires and what I can do for you:

Conclusions: Meaning and Fulfillment

As our journey through the Science of Happiness series concludes, we reflect on the evolution from primal happiness pursuits to the pinnacle of human experience—meaning and fulfillment.

The foundational pillars of connection, recognition, pain alleviation, and desire for more have been dissected, refined, and elevated. Now, we stand at the precipice of understanding that while happiness is a worthy pursuit, meaning steers us toward a life rich in fulfillment.

Ray Dalio says, “Evolving is life’s greatest accomplishment and its greatest reward.” Our exploration of happiness has not been a mere academic exercise but a transformative journey.

Each post has been a step towards a deeper understanding of ourselves and human existence. As we conclude this series, may the insights gained illuminate your path to the life not just lived but deeply fulfilled.


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