In western consumer society, pleasure is elevated as the most vital ingredient to happiness. Pleasure produces positive emotion and unduously positive emotion does not have a critical role to play when it comes to our wellbeing. The positive emotions we experience by engaging in pleasurable, leisure activities such as eating, drinking, shopping or watching films is short lived though. A life that is full of passive leisure and little else would certainly not be satisfying one or indeed a happy one, in the broader sense of the word. Why? Because although pleasurable activity can bring positive emotion it does not offer meaning.

To be as happy as we can, we need to seek the meaning in our lives. We do this by living what Aristotle called 'the good life'. Unlike the pleasant life of just leisure, the good life understands knowing what your character strengths are adapting your life so you use them more, and to use them in service of something larger than you are. When we are working to our strengths we also get to experience flow, which is a state of mindfulness during which we are fully absorbed in the present to the point where 'time stands still'. Some describe being in flow as being at one with what you are doing.

As multiple research studies has shown that living 'a good life' increases life satisfaction and living a 'pleasant life' does not, it is worth learning about our strengths and how they can help us to generate and experience more meaning.

Meaning varies from person to person: what is meaningful to you might mean nothing much to me. But where your personal meaning in life might lie, it almost always involves being attached to something bigger than you are. We never find much meaning inside our selves alone. It's important to remember too that people usually draw meaning form a number of sources, including religion, hobbies, campaigns, projects, career, family and friends.

A good first step to take if we are seeking to enrich the meaning in our lives is to complete the free VIA strengths survey that you can access on the authentic happiness.org website (which is a great positive psychology resource). This will give you a definite idea of ​​what your signature strengths are, and this will allow you to think of ways that you could use them more.

To conclude: the meaning of life lies in learning about who you are and then connecting yourself to some larger pictures, and contribute to them using your natural strengths.