How to experience a meaningful life: Based on the integration of theoretical models on meaning in life
2018, 26 (4):
People never stop exploring their meaning in life throughout one’s lifetime. Meaning in life stems from individuals' understandings of one’s self, the external world, and how one fits within the world. Comprising purpose and significance, meaning in life originates from individuals' daily experiences. It promotes physical health, psychological well-being and life satisfaction, triggers positive coping styles, strengthens interpersonal harmony, enhances study and work performance, helps recovering from trauma and facilitates posttraumatic growth. Six theoretical models regarding the formation of meaning in life are presented in this article, including the meaning-seeking model, the model of meaning-making coping and growth, the integrated model of meaning making, the dual-systems model, the five “A”s of meaning maintenance model and the hierarchic model of meaning. These models mainly include two meaning forms: situational meaning and global meaning, emphasize that the differences between them form the basis for the formation of meaning in life. Accordingly, we propose that it is individuals’ unmet psychological needs arising from such differences that cultivate the meaning formation. Future research on meaning in life should 1) emphasize more on the integration of its multiple facets, 2) further explore its functions, 3) examine whether it is driven by individuals’ psychological needs satisfaction, and 4) explore its neurocognitive mechanisms and implications in cross-cultural settings.
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