chapter  8
20 Pages

Experiencing Meaning in Life: Optimal Functioning at the Nexus of Well-Being, Psychopathology, and Spirituality

ByMICHAEL F. STEGER

Plato observed that humans are beings in search of meaning; people automatically coax meaning from their experiences, including the experience of life itself. Meaning is the web of connections, understandings, and interpretations that help us comprehend our experience and formulate plans directing our energies to the achievement of our desired future. Meaning provides us with the sense that our lives matter, that they make sense, and that they are more than the sum of our seconds, days, and years. Comprehending our experience in this way builds the cognitive component of meaning in life. e cognitive component of meaning in life thus refers to the understandings that we develop of who we are, what the world is like, and how we t in with and relate to the grand scheme of things (Heine, Proulx, & Vohs, 2006; Steger, 2009).