What Makes a Meaningful Life

Published: 2022-05-18
What Makes a Meaningful Life
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Happiness
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1709 words
15 min read

A meaningful life is one that gives individuals a profound sense of satisfaction and fulfillment (Heintzelman & King, 2014). However, many people consider their life to be meaningless and give numerous explanations that appear weak and some are based on their mistakes. These lives that they claim to be meaningless can be improved to become meaningfulness.For instance, whenever our lives lack meaning; there is often an accompanying sense of listlessness, emptiness, as well as lack of motivation. To make a meaningful life, it takes a lot of effort, and the outcome is the inner satisfaction that cannot be easily measured (Heintzelman & King, 2014). It, therefore, means that the enthusiasm to make a meaningful life is a choice that an individual can make. A personal decision need to be made if the person is willing to make a commitment to building a life that one can be pleased with and get rewarded. This paper will, therefore, argue that there are factors that if they are fulfilled, they will lead to an increased sense of a meaningful life. These factors include values, self-worth, efficacy, and purpose.

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The Definition and Component of Meaning

Meaning is a word used to denote the significance of something. However, meaning in life is defined as a sense of an individual's life having a purpose or investing energy as well as time to attain cherished goals. The word meaning has two significant sanities. One of these two has to do with interpretation or clarification. However, another sense of the term meaning has to do with concepts of value as well as worth. In this discussion of a meaningful life, "meaning" is commonly used in the second sense, that of value or quality. Deresiewcz argued that the experience of meaning in life is dependent upon fulfilment of four psychological factors: value, purpose, self-worth, and efficacy (Deresiewicz, 2014). Individuals consider life as being meaningful when they identify something or someone else in their life as of adequately high value.

Meaning-making is the process that includes the manner in which individuals understand sense of relationship, life events, as well as the self. Meaning making through religiosity as well as spirituality is very vital since it helps people to cope with their loss while increasingtheir own religious or spiritual beliefs (Deresiewicz, 2014).Adults often interpret the meaning of their experiences through a lens of hugely held assumptions. As such, when people experience something that challenges their manner of negotiating the world, they will have to undergo the transformative process which will aid them in the evaluation of those assumptions and methods of making meaning. For this reason, life is said to be meaningful when it is understood by that person living it.

Even though a happy life may not necessarily mean a meaningful life, spending time with people is very crucial for an individual because people's relationship with others is the primary factor when it comes to happiness (Deresiewicz, 2014). However, to some people, being happy and finding a meaningful life is both significant and has correlated roles. Additionally, spending most of the time with friends and family members was connected to higher happiness but not more meaning. Though spending time with the loved is difficult, it is more satisfying than spending time with friends.

Evidential Experience of Meaning

Values offer individuals with some moral compass that guides individual's behaviour and thoughts. Values are often developed based on people's cultural beliefs, religions as well as philosophies (Heintzelman & King, 2014). Whenever something feels not right to some individuals, it means that they have violated a deeply held value. Therefore, realizing the mistakes that contravene individual's values and making necessary correction will result in a meaningful life.

Every individual has a strong desire to feel enjoyable and worthwhile. Lack of this sense of self-worth will significantly diminish the meaning of life. The sense of self-worth can be strengthened through a critical examination of what behaviours and thoughts that an individual choose and the way they serve to make one more or less worthwhile. If an individual engages in any action that can make one ashamed of, then the outcome will be a weakened sense of self-worth (Heintzelman & King, 2014).Many people increase their self-esteem by attaching themselves to a worthy causewhich they believe in and associated with their most precious value.

The meaning of life is considerably abridged with a weak sense of self-efficacy. A healthy self of self-efficacy makes one have an increased sense of control over an individual's life hence a stronger sense of meaning. When a person is competent enough to carry out a task in a way that makes him/her feel proud, then that individual has a meaningful life.

The purpose is also an essential factor that makes life meaningful. For instance, finding one's mission is a personal process which is only revealed through tapping into an individual's underlying drives and inspirations (Deresiewicz, 2014). As such, there exist some things, events, as well as people in one's life that provide a sense of meaning and fulfilment to that person. Maybe the job that a person does gives him/her knowledge of satisfaction, or his family offers him a strong sense of meaning and identity. Consequently, an individual can discover his purpose through identification of his real values and enthusiastically direct his intentions, behaviours, and thoughts to live according to those values.

Both tragic and joyful experiences affect meaning. Tragic experiences will always cause great suffering even though everyone hopes that they will evade the worst experience that life has to offer. However, the pain caused by traumatic events, such as accidents, violence or illness, is not all bad news. For instance, tragic experiences were changing individuals in essential ways (Heintzelman & King, 2014). Though some of the changes were negative, it is surprising that a good number of people with painful experiences reported that they had a much inner strength that made them closer to family members and friends. Thus, people'srelationship with other individuals is connected to meaningful life. It is through this relationship that happiness and meaning are improved. According to them, being had more meaning because they were reorienting their lives towards achieving their aims. It, therefore, means that growth starts with healing from tragic experiences (Heintzelman & King, 2014). Using these experiences of struggle and suffering as a chance to search for meaning in their lives, people can change and eventually obtain a better identity.

People with joyful experiences are considered to have a global focus rather than local one. It means that they are capable of processing new types of information and often have higher mental flexibility. As a result, they think broadly, and this enables them to see how their daily experience is connected to a more meaningful life. Research has revealed that meaningful activities are often linked with enjoyment. In fact, the realization of personal meaning is ever accompanied by the feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction (Heintzelman & King, 2014). Report from previous studies indicates that feeling happy was strongly related to seeing life as pleasing, easy and free from stressful events. Subsequently, happiness was correlated with being in good health and feeling well, but this does not necessarily bring a sense of purpose to people's lives. Other researchers argue that having enough money to cater for one's need was also positively related to more significant levels of happiness but still seemed to make little difference in the sense of meaningful life (Deresiewicz, 2014). As such, people should change their thinking that "money doesn't buy happiness" and instead say "money doesn't buy meaning".

There exists a direct connection between meaning and identity because it is a simple procedure of seeing and understanding. So, if a person's self-identity is negative, then there is no doubt that the meaning of his life will be diminished. It is therefore very crucial for one to receive adequate training and be empowered with the right values in life. The outcome will be a success and a lasting joy that will make life meaningful.

The agency on the other hand significantly contributes to the use of human life. As such, agents are also presented with some defies which makes it difficult for them to sustain their motivation to act in the quest for their goals (Heintzelman & King, 2014). According to the relationship of meaning and ethics, the purpose of people's lives can either be of great objective value, meaning that it is better if humans can exist rather than not, of only personal importance. By subjective it means that an individual's life is considered to be valuable if it can be valued by oneself and others. Life is said to gain its meaning from day-to-day experience (Deresiewicz, 2014). The experience of everyday knowledge is derived from a shared sense of purpose in life. As such, it adds to a glow of meaning to judgments about specific life areas.


Arguably, the question concerning the meaning of life is like a question about the meaning of statement or action. Even though the idea of meaningful life is considered to be a long history, still it is widely regarded as an essential component of the good life. In contrast to finding a meaning that can be considered as being successful in dealing with life hitches, meaning life may be less problematic during unexceptional times. Joyful experiences are regarded as the natural habitat of meaningful life. For life to be considered as being useful, it has to contain a satisfactory number of facets of sufficient value. If it has passed some threshold of sufficiently high value, it can then be considered to be meaningful. Therefore, it is vital to realize that the meaning of life is based on value since it enables people to correct various mistakes they make about the meaning or meaninglessness of their lives. Meaningfulness has more to do with sacrifice, giving and effort. From the discussion, it is clear that a profoundly meaningful life may not always contain a great deal of daily happiness. Instead, it entails all efforts in fulfilling the aspects of value, purpose, self-worth, as well as efficacy.


Deresiewicz, W. (2014). Excellent sheep: The miseducation of the American elite and the way to a meaningful life. Simon and Schuster.

Heintzelman, S. J., & King, L. A. (2014). Life is pretty meaningful. American Psychologist, 69(6), 561.

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