“Being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, but there are important differences. A large survey revealed multiple differing predictors of how individuals arrive at happiness (controlling for meaning) and meaningfulness (controlling for happiness). Satisfying one’s needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness.
Happiness was largely present-oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self contributed to meaning but not happiness.
In short, one might say that this study finds that the contribution of something meaningful in our, or another’s life requires the sacrifice of personal happiness. What they fail to recognize is the inherent fulfillment and happiness a parent experiences when they contribute meaningfully to their child’s life in any way…regardless of the worry, stress and anxiety that may be involved.
My own conclusion… Parenting defies the laws of science through selflessness.