Living the Life

I recently read a description of authentic happiness by Martin Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. According to Seligman, there are three paths to happiness: the pleasant life, the good life and the meaningful life.

The pleasant life is what most people think of when considering whether they are happy or not. Some seek short cuts to the pleasant life through artificial means but sooner or later most people look in the mirror and ask themselves if that is all there is.

The good life comes through deep engagement in work, family life or other activities. In my case it is writing, spending time with my wife and playing golf, but it could be any activity that one finds challenging and rewarding.

Finally, the meaningful life means devoting oneself to an institution or cause greater than oneself. New York Times best-selling author Rick Warren captures this thought with the opening words to his hugely successful book, The Purpose-Driven Life: “It’s not about you. You were made by God and for God—and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”

Another best-selling author, Max Lucado, has written a book that echoes much the same sentiment. It is titled It’s Not About Me and it is subtitled “Rescue From the Life We Thought Would Make Us Happy.” As the Scriptures remind us, we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be added.” While I am experiencing the pleasant life and enjoying the good life, I am also endeavoring to live the meaningful life.