Writing about values, passion, and goals is an example of such an intervention, and we claim that having a purpose in life is fundamental and has ripple effects to all areas of life, including health, longevity, self-regulation, engagement, happiness, and performance (Schippers, 2017). Looking at these components, the connection to the salutogenic health theory emphasizing comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness seems clear. (1) Coherence refers to a cognitive aspect that one’s life makes sense; it reflects a sense of comprehensibility in life and is situated in the domain of “understanding” . (2) Purpose refers to a motivational aspect indicating that individuals have future-oriented long-term goals and feel that their lives have direction . Purpose reflects the pursuit and attainment of core aims, ultimate life goals and aspirations for life . (3) Significance refers to “the degree to which individuals feel that their existence is of significance and value”  (p. 2); that is a feeling of “existential mattering,” having a life worth living.
- Or, if you feel stuck, you may want to spend time creating a life narrative—an understanding of what experiences shaped you into the person you are now—with a redemptive storyline, perhaps through expressive writing practice or through working with a therapist.
- Subjectivists believe that there are no invariant standards of
meaning because meaning is relative to the subject, i.e., depends on
an individual’s pro-attitudes such as her particular desires or
ends, which are not shared by everyone.
- It is difficult to change your personality traits suddenly; however, it is possible to change your thinking patterns by working with a therapist trained in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
- In this way, logotherapy may be a complementary approach for these behavior and thought-based treatments.
- Instead, purposeful behaviors are by definition pursued for more intrinsic reasons, often related to core aspects of one’s identity.
In reply to such rationales for a moderate supernaturalism, there has
been the suggestion that it is precisely by virtue of being alone in
the universe that our lives would be particularly significant;
otherwise, God’s greatness would overshadow us (Kahane 2014). There has also been the response that, with the opportunity for
greater meaning from God would also come that for greater
anti-meaning, so that it is not clear that a world with God would
offer a net gain in respect of meaning (Metz 2019, 34–35). For
example, if pleasing God would greatly enhance facing your powerlessness in addiction recovery meaning in our lives,
then presumably displeasing God would greatly reduce it and to a
comparable degree. In addition, there are arguments for extreme
naturalism (or its “anti-theist” cousin) mentioned below
(sub-section 3.3). The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Speaking of Psychology is an audio podcast series highlighting some of the latest, most important, and relevant psychological research being conducted today.
Going Within to Create Meaning
You can also define a „costly consequence,” Strack says, if you don’t work toward your goals. The consequence doesn’t have to be negative, but it should incentivize you. Ask yourself, „Who do I admire?” and then analyze what makes them admirable to you. This will serve as a „north star” when you make choices throughout your life.
What Does Meaning-Making Mean?
You could take a cooking class to learn more about your new diet and look for restaurants with a flexible menu. Or, you might choose to increase control over your diet by eating mostly at home. This choice cuts down your social time, but helps you feel better about your food choices. One of the significant limitations of existentialism is the idea of responsibility.
This neurosis is caused by spiritual frustration or problem, moral or ethical conflicts, existential vacuum, or frustrated will to meaning. When it comes to finding meaning, it helps to try to pull particularly relevant experiences in our lives into a coherent narrative that defines our identity. People who describe their lives as meaningful tend to have redemptive stories where they overcame something negative, and to emphasize growth, communion with others, and personal agency.
In addition, that meaningfulness held regardless of external feedback about choice self-relevance. While it may seem obvious that clarity of message and meaning would stem from greater clarity of self, it is the proactive and joyful attitude with which the meaning is sought out that is of significance. Gaining an understanding of the nature and use of your strengths is one way to build your meaning and is backed by research.
Most important is to find a meaning that makes sense to you and recognize that this meaning might change as you go through different stages of your life. Selfless service is often discovered to be the ultimate pinnacle of having a meaningful life, and many intriguing conversations with service workers, nurses, aid workers, and volunteers illustrate how they enjoy a meaningful life by serving others. Living a life with meaning and value can make you happier, more content, more resilient through hard sober living recovery housing addiction alcoholic times, and more likely to influence the lives of others. Older adults who regularly engage in their favorite pastimes and who have a healthy, positive relationship with their favorite activity have better psychological functioning. For example, if you have a passion for painting, you will carve out time to paint, experience a great deal of happiness when you complete the activity, and may embody that passion in your understanding of your identity (e.g., you may consider yourself a ‘painter’).
However, the second variation of this question – how we find meaning in life – is psychological and of more interest to us. The philosophical question is aimed at understanding the meaning of life in general, as well as our role in that meaning. For the purposes of this article, we’re putting the philosophical perspective on this issue to the side. And so the meaning of life, of our life, is that which we choose to give it.
Meaning, altruism, and accountability
During your journey, you might that having meaning in life is not about yourself, but serving others. Finding meaning in life is a journey that could start with something as simple as a pen and paper, deep reflection, and one of our tools mentioned above. Or your journey could start by stepping out the door and connecting with a neighbor, making a newfound friend, or starting a hobby you have wanted to explore but never got around to. I believe that I am not responsible for the meaningfulness or meaninglessness of life, but that I am responsible for what I do with the life I’ve got. It can be difficult for older adults to make new social connections, especially after retirement, because the ‘natural environment’ for meeting new people, such as the workplace, is removed. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways for older adults to meet new people and form new relationships.
The importance of following through was shown in a 15-week study aimed at finding out whether engaging in trait-typical behaviors predicted trait change (Hudson et al., 2018). In this study, students provided self-report ratings of their personality and were required to complete weekly “challenges”—prewritten behavioral goals (e.g., “Before you go to bed, reflect on a positive social experience you had during the day and what you liked about it”). These challenges were aimed at aligning their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with their desired traits (in case of the example this was extraversion).
Option 1: The Meaning of Life Is Human Connection
That ought to be what therapy is mostly about is these are the big issues we need to be struggling with. But, you know, you can be there, and you can be a resource, but not change other people. And so, having that person there who will listen to us is really important because these are things a timeline for the restoration of cognitive abilities after quitting alcohol we don’t want to look at. And so, it really helps to have someone nearby who you can talk to about it. The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.
Meaning also often comes from experiencing challenges, while happiness does not. Doing things that are hard can often generate a sense of meaning—we feel like we’ve done something important or meaningful. If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others discover meaning, this collection contains 17 validated meaning tools for practitioners. Use them to help others choose directions for their lives in alignment with what is truly important to them. It’s easy to neglect social relationships in favor of alone time (which is also important) or work deadlines, but promoting these relationships will have a more positive impact in the long term. If you are the type of person who forgets to see friends or family, add a reminder to your calendar.
Maybe there is meaning in looking over rolling hills that seem to stretch on forever. There are all sorts of little things that can provide meaning if you take the time to notice them. You could also do community service or join a program to clean up the environment. When you are giving, you can start to feel that you are providing something that helps others and that you are living a life of meaning.
The premise theorizes that this knowledge creates feelings of loneliness and isolation. Existential theory is rooted in the philosophical idea that humans have free choice, and because of that free choice, we can create purpose and meaning in our lives. If you have ever asked yourself this question, it may have required a lot of thought. Yet, how we attach meaning to our lives can influence our choices in how we behave and interact with others.
It’s interesting to see how meaning may more often come from difficulty than ease. Join 550,000+ helping professionals who get free, science-based tools sent directly to their inbox. My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Try to find people who are also learning this language and watch a film in that language together. Vallerand (2012) argues that either motivation or passion drives our desire and interest in activities.