You can make your quest for meaning manageable by breaking it down into three bite-size dimensions.

You can make your quest for meaning manageable by breaking it down into three bite-size dimensions.

via the Atlantic by Arthur C Brooks

Want to live in a directed, resolute way? To always know why you’re doing what you’re doing? There’s a simple way to make your dreams come true: Go find the meaning of life!

People who believe that they know their life’s meaning enjoy greater well-being than those who don’t. One 2019 study found that agreeing with the statement “I have a philosophy of life that helps me understand who I am” was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and higher positive affect.

Lucky you if you were born already knowing what the meaning of your life is. For the rest of us, the search can be difficult and frustrating. Philosophy is often unhelpful, offering abstract ideas such as Aristotle’s human function or Kant’s “highest good” that are hard to comprehend, let alone put into action.

Throwing up your hands and concluding that the question of the meaning of life is simply unanswerable—by you, at least—is the easy response. But you can make your quest for meaning manageable by breaking it down into three bite-size dimensions, and then considering each one in turn.

Many psychologists call knowing your life’s meaning “presence,” and the drive to look for it “search.” They are not mutually exclusive: You might or might not search, whether you already have a sense of meaning or not. Some people low in presence don’t bother searching—they are “stuck.” Some are high in presence but keep searching—we can call them “seekers.”

Presence is highly correlated with well-being, but search seems to have no bearing on it—and pondering your meaning in life too much could even lead you to dissatisfaction. Consider how the paradox of choice leaves people unsatisfied when they’re given too many options in consumer items. Or in love, for that matter: A 2009 study in the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior tells a whole story in its title: “More Options Lead to More Searching and Worse Choices in Finding Partners for Romantic Relationships Online.” Though no study I have seen has specifically examined the issue, we can guess that peripatetic meaning-seekers would suffer in a similar way.

If you haven’t yet found a sense of meaning at all, how do you go about searching for it without searching too much? The answer is to take a sprawling philosophical question and make it manageable. You can do so most effectively—and without too much obsessing—by assessing your life along three dimensions, which the psychologists Frank Martela and Michael F. Steger defined in The Journal of Positive Psychology in 2016 …

… keep reading the full & original article HERE