Beyond happiness

I was looking for happiness and found meaning. When I accepted meaning, happiness became meaningless.

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About mathias sager

PSYCHOLOGIST and Independent Researcher I'm born in Zurich and grew up in Switzerland. For many years I lived in Tokyo, and also in Pune/India. I'm passionate about developing human potential, which is an overarching theme throughout all my work that is based on research and supported by intuition and art. Through teaching, counseling, and leading indivuals and teams around the world my goal is to inspire with interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural approaches to personal and professional development for individual well-being and the common good alike. Happy if you reach me on, connect on social media, or email directly to Developing human potential is my passion! - Independent Awareness Intelligence Research (mathias sager - Psychology, global) - MSc in Psychology (University of Liverpool) - Postgraduate in Conflict Management, Leadership and Crisis Communication (University of Applied Sciences Winterthur, Switzerland) - Executive Master in Business Administration (EMBA, iimt Fribourg, Switzerland) - Bachelor in Education Sciences (Switzerland)
  • Now in this quote lies so much meaningfulness!! Thanks for sharing..

  • Great saying, dear Mathias – in this way you can treat both ways: happiness and unhappiness with an untouched heart and so we should be towards praises and critics…

    All good wishes

    • mathias sager says:

      Hi Didi. Thank you very much for this helpful comment. Indeed, meaning comes from how we internally process the world (incl. the praises and critics you mention). Take care!

  • Just some random thoughts:
    It seems to me that unhappiness is related to taking stock of the way things are and deciding they are not the way you want them to be or think they should be. This involves some aspect of judgement or measuring. In a sense, unhappiness lies in resistance to what is. The greater the amount of resistance, the greater the unhappiness. When resistance is replaced by acceptance, unhappiness is replaced by peace. The Prayer of Serenity comes to mind in so far as accepting the things I cannot change and having wisdom + courage to apply myself towards things I can change. Perhaps there is some aspect of meaning wrapped up in such wisdom. In general, meaning and meaningless seem to me to have some aspect of judgement and this gives me pause. In any case, thanks for giving me something meaningful to ponder…;

    • mathias sager says:

      Thank you very much for your stimulating thoughts.
      I think you’re right. In other words, we may give up our expectation and insistence related to getting what we want from the external world (what you call replacing resistance), and start giving from inside that provides personal meaning and independence from the outer world (what you call achieving peace through wisdom and courage). Happiness and meaningfulness for me are not opposites, but different concepts (with some overlaps though).
      Thank you again for helping the discussion. Take care!

  • OwnShadow says:

    Sadly, I know what you mean.

    • mathias sager says:

      Thank you for your comment; much appreciated. I can understand your mentioning of “sad,” but on the other side, it doesn’t have to be sad actually. Not focusing happiness doesn’t necessarily mean to be unhappy. It is about to choose the kind of long-lasting giving that is meaningful and fulfilling in the long-term rather than taking what is pleasing in the short-term. Thank you again and take care

  • Ilah says:

    This is the first post I’m reading from you and it really struck a chord. I couldn’t agree with this more. We are taught that happiness is the one thing we should aspire to, that it is the ultimate goal in life. And I’m sure that must be true for some people, but when you reach meaning, everything else seems a bit lacking in comparison. And ‘happiness’ turns into a nice addition to life, instead of being the number one goal. Thank you for posting! ^^

    • mathias sager says:

      You frame/formulate that very well. Thank you so much!
      It is also helpful to understand that our Western notion and declaration of happiness as the ultimate goal is the result of culture and socialization. Eastern traditions adapt a more ambivalent view towards happiness and often strive to balance happiness and unhappiness also by spiritual means. Collective harmony vs. individual appreciation may be further cultural differences in the definition of happiness. See also:
      All the best!

      • Ilah says:

        I come from a mix of both eastern and western philosophies, so it’s a bit easier to view happiness as something other than the penultimate goal. And I agree, there’s also a difference in the way eastern traditions will deal with unhappiness and in the way western traditions will. Although, the way I see it, western traditions are rapidly changing, so I can’t really make much of a comparison, from the knowledge that I have. But I’ll eagerly be reading the piece you recommended! 🙂

      • mathias sager says:

        Good point. Thank you very much for your personal experience!
        I feel the vocabulary of Western culture is changing, but the link of happiness with consumerism remains (now even spirituality can be consumed in form of Yoga (fitness) and retreats (just another approach for all inclusive vacation?;-). Due to globalization, I think there is a tendency of Eastern cultures becoming more westernized (as long as there is no counter-reaction).
        Let’s keep thinking across cultural boundaries:-)

      • Ilah says:

        You’re very much welcome! Oh wow, you do have a point there. Several, actually. But yeah, let us still broaden our horizons 🙂

  • Patty says:

    And sometimes happiness is brought to you, when you were not even searching for it 😉
    A gift:

  • Nice! Succinct and profound!

  • Beautiful post, indeed,

  • Very Frankl-esque! I small bites of wisdom that allow one to simply chew and digest. Keep up the good work, and thanks for following me, Mathias….reciprocity + value = good fit/relationship.

    • mathias sager says:

      Hi Michael. Thanks a lot and I’m looking forward to more equations of wisdom that benefit the connection:-)

  • A most intriguing quote, my friend. I look forward to reading more of your meaningful posts and will not be surprised to find myself a happier man . . . Blessings!