This is not your typical Meetup group. It is not intended for those who only want to meet new people. This Meetup is designed for those who are interested in learning how to have more happiness and meaning in their lives.
Meetup 2019 Lesson 5: Meaning is the Key to Mental Health and Flourishing
Do you want to have authentic happiness and success? Then pursue meaning! This is the least travelled road, but it is your best bet on finding a fulfilling future according to ancient wisdom and modern science.
Hear me out and try it out by attending our next meetup on Meaningful Living.
Meaning is not only the core of human experience, but also the key to human survival and thriving as individuals as a species. In addition to functioning as a protective factor, meaning also plays a crucial role in navigating troubled waters, and recovering from trauma and mental illness (Russo-Netzer, Schulenberg, & Batthyany, 2016).
After several decades of scientific research, I can confidently support Viktor Frankl’s thesis: “the quest for meaning is the key to mental health and human flourishing” (Frankl, 1985). All the available research findings on meaning in life (e.g., Battyany & Russo-Netzer, 2014; Hicks & Routledge, 2013; Wong, 2012) indicate that the human quest for meaning is a primary human motivation, favored by evolution because of its numerous adaptive benefits.
More specifically, I am proposing that humans are by nature spiritual-existential creatures, with the universal tendency to seek God (higher power) and self-transcendental meaning as a buffer against the terrors of death (Becker, 1974; Routledge, 2018) and evils of life (Becker, 1985; Wong, 2019).
The Importance of Supernatural Beliefs
Routledge (2018) provided a lot of experimental evidences to prove that “supernatural thinking is just a natural part of how the human brain works” (xiv). He argued that atheists should not readily dismiss supernatural beliefs in God and the ultimate meaning of life as ignorant superstitions, because many believers are intelligent scientists. Furthermore, scientific research has shown that faith in God is the most effective antidote to our existential anxieties about our own mortality and our lonely struggles against an uncertain future, and all the stresses, sicknesses, failures, and natural and social evils (Wong, 2015; 1993; Park, 2010).
I have emphasized that religious faith and belief in the intrinsic meaning of life are important for experiencing meaning because we are existential beings, living in the shadow of death and suffering. That is why it is not possible to have a complete account of meaning in life without understanding the meaning of suffering (Wong, 2019) and the meaning of death (Wong & Tomer, 2011).
Rabbi Harold S. Kushner (2007) reminded us that faith in God will always shine even in the darkest moment: “God is the light shining in the midst of darkness, not to deny that there is darkness in the world but to reassure us that we do not have to be afraid of the darkness because darkness will always yield to light. As theologian David Griffin puts in, God is all-powerful, His power enables people to deal with events beyond their control and He gives us the strength to do those things because He is with us.”
Happiness Versus Meaning
So many people are busy pursuing happiness without finding it. Your life becomes better when you pursue meaning rather than happiness. Better does not mean easier, but it means that you will become fully engaged, creating something of objective value, and experiencing a sense of significance and fulfillment.
While the pursuit of meaning leads to authentic happiness (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), the process is often associated with delay of gratification, self-sacrifices, disciplined hard work, and painful struggles to overcome failures and obstacles (Wong, 2019). However, deep satisfaction and enduring happiness can only come from both the process of striving for meaning and the outcome of finding meaning (Wong, 2016a).
In this meetup, I will explain the nature of meaning and the sources of meaning. More importantly, I will explain the different pathways to meaning and the various activities you can do to find meaning in your work, relationships and life as a whole.
10 Reasons to Join the Toronto Meaningful Living Group
- Discover who you really are and what you’re meant to be.
- Learn how to become a better and happier person.
- Discover your purpose and passion for living.
- Discover the roadmap to fulfill your mission in life.
- Learn what makes for the good life and how to achieve it.
- Develop a positive and hopeful mindset.
- Learn how to make a difference in the world.
- Learn the keys to better relationships.
- Learn how to transform crises into opportunities.
- Meet new friends and help each other to grow psychologically and spiritually.