We are meant to thrive, to enjoy life to the fullest. That is why I was intrigued when I came across psychologist Martin Seligman's 3 Levels of Happiness. I think they are insightful. I'd like to share them with you while adding my own interpretation.
Level 1: The Pleasant Life
The Pleasant Life consists of doing and having things that bring pleasure. This includes shopping, going to concerts, eating good food and having nice things. None of these are bad, they are just temporary and not deeply fulfilling.
Level 2: The Engaged Life
The Engaged Life includes pursuing important personal goals and building strong relationships. Examples of personal goals may be running a marathon or becoming proficient with a musical instrument. Living a disciplined, focused life leads to personal fulfillment.
So does investing in relationships. Taking time to enjoy family and friends. The Engaged Life provides longer lasting and deeper happiness than the Pleasant Life.
Level 3: The Meaningful Life
The Meaningful Life consists of using your God-given talents and strengths in service to others. Take time to discover what you are good at. Seek out your natural talents and use them to make someone else's life better. All of us want to be part of something larger than ourselves, to make a positive difference in the lives of others. The Meaningful Life moves you from happiness to joy.
I don't think Seligman meant for us to limit ourselves to one level of happiness. I'm not an 'either/or' person. Rather I'm a 'both/and' or in this case, an all-three, type of person.
So pursue all three levels. Use the special talents that the Lord gave you to serve others. And pursue personal goals and healthy relationships. And round out your life with healthy experiences and things you enjoy.
In fact, I believe if we seek the Meaningful Life, the Engaged Life will flow naturally from it. And the Pleasant Life will be the frosting on the cake.
In this case, who says you can't have it all?