Finding meaning from mutability: making sense and deriving significance through counterfactual thinking ADAM D . GALINSKY , KATIE A . LILJENQUIST ,
As the opening quotation suggests, at each turn in life, the search for meaning represents an integral part of the human experience. Meaning is acquired in many ways. For some, meaning is sought through spiritual enlightenment. For others, meaning is obtained through status and the adoration of others. Still others cultivate intimate personal relationships as the defining purpose of their lives. Regardless of the particular substance of an individual’s quest for meaning, we contend that the psychological need for meaning is universal. One way in which meaning is derived and enhanced is through the consideration of “what might have been.” In this chapter, we explore this relationship between meaning and counterfactual thinking.