In the last chapter of his book ‘Flow’, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi presents the mesmerised reader with three sides of the word meaning: purpose, resolution, and, ultimately, harmony.
In this sense the answer to the old riddle “What is the meaning of life?” turns out to be astonishingly simple. The meaning of life is meaning: whatever it is, wherever it comes from, a unified purpose is what gives meaning to life.
What counts is not so much whether a person actually achieves what she has set out to do; rather, it matters whether effort has been expended to reach the goal, instead of being diffused or wasted. When “the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,” Hamlet observed, “…enterprises of great pith and moment… lose the name of action.” Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it. “He who desires but acts not, ” wrote Blake with his accustomed vigor, “breeds pestilence.”
Someone who is in harmony no matter what he does, no matter what is happening to him, knows that his psychic energy is not being wasted on doubt, regret, guilt, and fear, but is always usefully employed. Inner congruence ultimately leads to that inner strength and serenity we admire in people who seem to have come to terms with themselves.