SUCCESS Materials – English

Meaning of Life – Theoretical Background – The Benefits of Meaning Making

The Benefits of Meaning Making

According to the results of relevant research, the meaning of life seems to have a crucial role in maintaining the psychological health of people. Surveys have demonstrated that receiving something positive from life experiences and finding positive points and benefits even in difficult situations, leads the individuals in  experiencing more positive emotions (Folkman, 1997· Folkman, & Moscowitz, 2000). Also, finding a positive meaning in important life events, has been associated with long-term psychological well-being and health (Davis, Nolen-Hoeksema & Larson, 1998).

In particular, Fredrickson (2000) argues that finding a positive meaning in life, is perhaps the main indirect way to generate and cultivate positive emotions (Fredrickson, 2000). In this context, people can find positive meaning in their daily lives by reframing negative situations and approaching them in a more positive way (positive reappraisal), giving positive value to mere daily events, and finally, setting and achieving realistic goals (Folkman, 1997; Fredrickson, 2000).

Surveys of recent years have found that finding meaning in life is negatively correlated with: depression (Robak & Griffin, 2000· Westgate, 1996), with reports of negative psychological symptoms (Kassetal, 1991· Yalom, 1980), with loneliness (Bodevik & Skogstad, 2000), with social isolation (Maddi, 1967), with her of death (Bolt, 1985· Moody, 1989) with feeling of despair (Grygielsky, 1984). In addition, it has been found that experiencing life meaning, functions as a way for better stress management (regulation; Newcomb & Harlow, 1986).

Respectively, the meaning of life has been found to be positively correlated with: psychological well-being (Compton, 2000· Debats, 1996· Deormeaux, 2000· Labelleetal, 2001· Reker, Peacok, & Wong, 1987· Scannel, Allen & Burton, 2002· Shek, 1992· Underhill, 1991· Zika & Chaubercain, 1992), with life satisfaction (Hutzell, 1984· King & Napa, 1998), with a positive world sight (Molcar & Stuempfig, 1998), with death acceptance (Blazer, 1973), with positive self-image and self-esteem (Reker, 1977), with physical health and psychological adaptation (Debats, Drost & Hausen, 1995· Sappington, Bryant & Oden, 1990) and with strategies to tackle the crisis (Auhagen, 2000). With regard to personality features, the meaning in life has been found to be negatively correlated with “psychoticism” and “neuroticism” (Pilecka, 1985), while positively correlated with extraversion (Pearson & Seffield, 1974, 1989), with the emotional stability, maturity, conscience, self-esteem, and responsibility (Shaughnessy & Evans, 1987).

Summarizing, it seems that the meaning in life is related to those personality traits that make the person more functional in its everyday life, offer a push to find pleasure in life and to better adapt to difficult situations that may occurred.