The holidays are synonymous with family. That’s the general perception. Now it’s statistically backed up by research conducted by Pew Research Center.
These questions were put to more than 4,700 people contacted a year ago: “Please take a moment to reflect on your life and what makes it feel worthwhile. What do you currently find meaningful, fulfilling or satisfying? What keeps you going, and why?”
The most frequent answer people gave was Family (69 percent). Far behind in second place, at 34 percent, was Career. Money placed third (23 percent) and fourth was Faith (20 percent).
Bunched together after that in the 16-19 percent range were, in descending order, Friends, Hobbies, Health.
The least mentioned topic that was cited as a source of meaning in life, ironically enough, was Learning. I’m not sure what it says about the current state of human affairs if the adults who participated in this Pew poll believe they have little to learn, or if they believe that learning isn’t meaningful. Well, as they say, you learn something new every day.
Not surprisingly, married folks were more likely to rank Family at the top of their list of what infuses their lives with the most meaning.
Interestingly, the more money a respondent made, the more likely that person was to cite Friends as a source of meaning. The same income pattern held when citing Good Health—those in upper brackets were more likely to mention that as important to them for a meaningful existence.
On the political spectrum, says Pew Research Center of those it polled, “conservative Americans are more likely than liberals to find meaning in religion, while liberals find more meaning in creativity and causes than do conservatives.” If you’re middle-of-the-road politically, I guess that makes you religiously creative.
In addition to the above categories, the survey also solicited free-form comments. As Pew reports, “Some are hopeful, others bleak, some funny, and others tragic.”
In this season of reflection on such cornerstones of life as faith, hope and charity, I’ve picked a few quotes to share with you here. In sum, they form a veritable Whitman’s Sampler of America circa 2018.
• “My greatest joy comes from my loved ones.”
• “Frankly, I do not see the future positively (I am NOT depressed). I see the rich getting richer and the less lucky losing more.”
• “I do not feel meaning can be found but must be created.”
• “It would be nice to live according to my being rather than my blackness. I will never know how a totally worthwhile life will feel because of this.”
• “It’s easy to forget what’s wrong in the world when you are pretending to be a puppy with your daughter.”
• “My boy keeps me going although his mother is drunk and does drugs. I keep on hoping for the best.”
• “Family, God, friends, guns, work… in that order.”
• “I like to help someone when I can and I like to go to church. I also like to play games on this iPad.”
• “Having lived in Latin America for half my life, I realize how lucky we are to live in the United States.”
Whatever your beliefs, and whatever you may celebrate, here’s wishing each one of you a bountiful season of love, kindness, fulfillment, and a felicitous future.
Bruce “The Blog” Apar promotes local businesses, organizations, events and people through public relations agency APAR PR. He also is an actor, a community volunteer, and a contributor to several periodicals. Follow him as Bruce the Blog on social media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-275-6887.