A meaningful life is a broad term encompassing a varied number of definitions having to do with the pursuit of life satisfaction. Meaning can be defined as the connection linking two presumably independent entities together. While the specific theories vary, there are two common aspects: a global way to understand one's life and the belief that life itself is meaningful. Those possessing a sense of meaning are generally found to have lower levels of negative emotions and lower risk of mental illness. With the stated goal of positive psychology to foster thriving in individuals and render a more fulfilling life, the interest of positive psychology is no longer to treat those with disorders or illnesses but to make a normal person's life more fulfilling and for the non-disordered individual to flourish. Thus the act of seeking a meaningful life goes hand-in-hand with positive psychology's mission statement.
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To feel that your life is well-lived, is it enough to learn how to engage fully in your activities, to savor life's pleasures, and to experience positive emotions? Philosophers, religious leaders, and even political leaders through the ages have often argued "no": lasting happiness also requires that you focus on concerns outside of yourself and feel that your life has purpose. Humans need both pleasure and meaning in their lives in order to feel satisfied.
What gives your life meaning? Only you know. For some people, it is their religious beliefs. For others, it's the future of their children, or a positive contribution to their community, the larger world, art, literature, or the health and well-being of others.
Scientists are now finding evidence that ancient theologians and philosophers were right: your well-being is enhanced when you are part of and contribute to something larger and longer-lasting than your individual self.