In a recent Harvard Business Review piece, researcher and writer Rosabeth Moss Canter argues that the happiest people are those dedicated to wicked problems.
The happiest people I know are dedicated to dealing with the most difficult problems. Turning around inner city schools. Finding solutions to homelessness or unsafe drinking water. Supporting children with terminal illnesses. They face the seemingly worst of the world with a conviction that they can do something about it and serve others.
There is now good evidence for the relationship between happiness and meaning. People who strive to make a difference, even if seemingly impossible, are happier.
This raises interesting questions about the success indicators we use for organizations and communities. One would be how many large purposes people feel invited into and engaged in. How can we invite and engage people in larger purposes? Who would do this? Would it be more likely from institutional programs or grassroots efforts, or both?