Survey data show that family and meaningful work are two of the most important determinants of happiness for most people.
Why is that? Work and our families are two of the most tangible ways we are reminded that we are necessary — That people around us rely on us and on the contributions that only we can make. Remembering this is one of the central ways that we can sense our human dignity.
What contribution did you make on Thanksgiving Day at the gathering you attended? Did you do something outside the dinner feast that served a contribution to others?
Knowing what makes us tick and influences us to act is important to our well-being and our sense of purpose. But there's another why to taking action — that is to give others a sense of purpose as well. When people carry feelings of disaffection, contempt, and isolation, it makes them feel as though there’s less and less of a place for them in our economy, our culture, and our society.
In a season dedicated to gratitude and generosity, many of us wonder what we can do to help up our struggling brothers and sisters. The impulse has noble roots — but it may be the wrong question. Instead of asking, “How we can better help struggling people?” ask, “How do we rebuild our economy and society so that everyone is needed and purposeful?”
When we think about how to build our economy and community with a purpose for each of us, it makes it easier to identify how to uplift and incorporate those still looking for a place to belong and thrive.