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My Definitive "Meaning Over Happiness" Post

Mike Radivis just asked asked some good questions on "Chase Meaning, Not Happiness" -

How do you measure meaning if not in terms of happiness? Aren't things that create more happiness for a longer time for a larger number of individuals better than those things who lack those qualities but are proclaimed to be personal achievements anyway? Does the scope of happiness make happiness meaningful to you or not? What are achievements good for if they aren't good at facilitating happiness? Imagine you wouldn't experience any pleasant or unpleasant emotions and would have to decide rationally what to pursue (assuming that is possible at all). Then what you want to do with your life? (Another way to formulate this question maybe would be to ask what's your grand strategy in that situation.)

I'm quite interested in your answers. I like that your blog posts are so outspoken. It's just that the message of this post is hard for me to grasp, as I'm pretty much utilitarian in my thinking.

Good questions. I'll go through it line by line.

How do you measure meaning if not in terms of happiness?

Building 8 "Sleepwalker"

On Wellington Street

I woke up last night to the pinging sound metal makes on hard wood. As I began to wake up fully, the pinging continued. Sound repeating over and over. Finally, I turned my head and saw my son Noah standing next to my bed. He was tapping against the side of the end table with the edge of a large knife, like a tuning fork. Somehow he knew I was awake because he turned and looked at me. It was the longest he had looked at me all day, and the only time he had done so voluntarily. He took the knife and pointed at me. My boy...his eyes were absent. He wasn't there at all.

“Noah,” I said firmly.“Put down the knife.”

He didn't respond at first, just stood there, rocking. But finally he spoke, his voice hollow. Without pitch. He looked at me and said “You aren't supposed to be awake. Go back to sleep.” He gently placed the knife down on the end table and left the room, disappearing around the corner as I heard him head back up the stairs. Margaret was awake now and was looking at me. Waiting for me to explain. I told her to stay where she was as I grabbed the knife and headed up the stairs.

When I reached the room where my two kids were staying I stopped and listened at the door. All I could hear was the gentle snore of my daughter. I opened the door as quietly as I could. Bit by bit. When I looked inside Noah was in his bed. He seemed to be sleeping as well...I know Noah sleep walks. But I had been told it had gotten better. As I walked downstairs only one thought kept running through my mind. This was my fault. If they hadn't come to visit he would be okay.

Went to the kitchen and turned on the light. It hurt my eyes. Found the knife block and placed the knife back. I tried not to think too much when I found another two knives placed side by side on the counter. One was long and thin. It was a filet knife. The other was simply smaller than the other ones. And though I tried not to think about it the thought came anyway. My son hadn't simply grabbed a knife in his sleep. He had considered his options, and settled on the one.

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