Most people have no concept of where their motivations come from, what stage of psychological development they are at, what stages they have passed through, or what stages they still need to master to find fulfilment in their lives. The only criteria they have for making choices are: what makes them feel happy in the moment, or what gives their life a sense of meaning and fulfilment.
Happiness, meaning and fulfilment are not synonymous. What makes us happy is the satisfaction of our ego’s needs, and what gives our life meaning and fulfilment is the satisfaction of our soul’s needs. Often people gain a sense of meaning from dealing with situations that are intrinsically sad, unjust or unfair, or physically or emotionally challenging. Alleviating poverty, rectifying injustice and caring for the sick, elderly or dying are not always “happy” experiences: what makes these experiences meaningful is our ability to make a difference. When we are able devote our lives to such pursuits, or whatever activities we invest our time in that make a difference, we find fulfilment.
At a certain point in life, and in certain circumstances, meaning can be just as important to our psychological survival as oxygen and water are to our physical survival. Finding meaning can also act as a source of resilience.Richard Barrett, Evolutionary Coaching