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New Thinking on Psychological Health: Find Purpose and Meaning in Life

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2023) | Viewed by 27371

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
1. Hilldale Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
2. Director, Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
3. Principal Investigator, MIDUS National Longitudinal Study, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Interests: psychological well-being; eudaimonia; purpose in life; morbidity; mortality; physiological mechanisms; brain mechanisms; socioeconomic disparities; racial disparities; culture; integrative health science
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
1. Founder & CEO, Eudaimonic by Design, Halifax, NS B3H 3L7, Canada
2. Instructional Team, Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
3. Board Member, International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA), Apple Valley, MN 55124, USA
Interests: eudaimonia; applied positive psychology; positive organizational development (focus on leadership and institutional culture); human resources development; coaching; ethics; performing arts and humanities
* Co-Chair, IPPA World Congress on Positive Psychology, 2023

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Recent years have seen notable changes in the science and practice of mental health. Traditionally formulated in terms of psychological disorders, the new thinking has focused on diverse aspects of well-being. Key among these new directions have been studies of purposeful life engagement and the pursuit of meaningful lives. This Special Issue seeks to deepen and broaden work in these areas. One route of expansion is to bring greater attention to the life domains (work, family, community, civic engagement) in which experiences of purpose and meaning are nurtured, or possibly undermined. Another direction is to bring greater emphasis to surrounding social structural contexts, such as socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, cultural background, surrounding physical environments. How do these contextual influences matter for purpose and meaning? Growing science has linked purpose in life to health, defined as increased longevity, reduced risk of disease, better physiological regulation, brain-based assessments of emotion regulation, and gene expression. These also constitute promising areas of expansion—for whom do these effects occur? Under what conditions? In what contexts? From the perspective of application, key questions pertain to whether purpose and meaning are modifiable. Can these aspects of well-being be cultivated, including among those who do not typically have such experiences? What interventions have been shown to have impact and in what domains? Finally, there is merit in revisiting the theoretical and conceptual foundations of purpose and meaning to illuminate how such ideas intersect with critical humanism and commitments to address major societal challenges, such as climate change, growing inequality, and the pandemic.

You may choose our Joint Special Issue in Social Sciences.

Prof. Dr. Carol D. Ryff
Guest Editor

Andrew Soren
Co-Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • purposeful life engagement
  • meaningful living
  • life domains
  • social and environmental contexts
  • longevity
  • disease risk
  • physiological regulation
  • brain mechanisms
  • gene expression
  • interventions
  • theory
  • philosophy
  • societal change

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Editorial

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0 pages, 296 KiB  
Editorial
Introduction to this Special Issue on New Thinking on Psychological Health: Find Purpose and Meaning in Life
by Carol D. Ryff and Andrew Soren
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(24), 7168; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20247168 - 12 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1397
Abstract
As illustrated by the articles in this Special Issue [1,2], research on meaning and purpose in life has grown exponentially in recent years [...] Full article

Research

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14 pages, 605 KiB  
Article
Healthy Eating as Potential Mediator of Inverse Association between Purpose in Life and Waist Circumference: Emerging Evidence from US and Chilean Cohorts
by Loni Berkowitz, Camila Mateo, Cristian Salazar, Bárbara Samith, Daniela Sara, Victoria Pinto, Ximena Martínez, Mariana Calzada, Andrea von Schultzendorff, Nuria Pedrals, Marcela Bitran, Guadalupe Echeverría, Chiara Ruini, Carol Ryff and Attilio Rigotti
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(23), 7099; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20237099 - 23 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1612
Abstract
High sense of purpose in life, a fundamental domain of eudaimonic well-being, has been consistently associated with lower risk for various obesity-related chronic diseases. Although this psychological feature correlates with some health behaviors as potential mediators, its association with healthy eating remains less [...] Read more.
High sense of purpose in life, a fundamental domain of eudaimonic well-being, has been consistently associated with lower risk for various obesity-related chronic diseases. Although this psychological feature correlates with some health behaviors as potential mediators, its association with healthy eating remains less explored. In addition, studies of these psycho-behavioral and health relationships in the South American population are lacking. This research sought to assess: (1) the cross-sectional association between self-reported purpose in life and overall healthy eating patterns, and (2) healthy food intake as a potential mediator of the inverse relationship between purpose in life and waist circumference. Data collected of 2060 US adults from the MIDUS study (5 ± 12 years, 55% women, mostly white people, and 42.5% obese) and 223 Chilean adults from the CHILEMED study (46.6 ± 9 years, 58.3% women, and 71.3% obese) were used. Anthropometric and sociodemographic variables were collected. Sense of purpose was assessed using the purpose in life subscale of the Ryff’s psychological well-being questionnaire. Diet quality was evaluated using healthy eating or low-fat diet indexes, according to extant food intake data in each cohort. The relationship between these variables was estimated by bivariate and multivariate linear regressions with appropriate adjustments. To establish whether a better diet quality could mediate a link of purpose in life and improved nutritional status (assessed by waist circumference), the association between these three variables was tested by bootstrapping-based mediation analysis. Our results show significant associations of sense of purpose with healthy eating and low-fat dietary patterns in both US and Chilean cohorts, respectively, even after adjusting for sociodemographic variables. According to the mediation analysis, the relationship between sense of purpose and waist circumference, as an indicator of abdominal obesity, appears to be partially mediated by healthier food intake in both samples. In conclusion, our findings suggest a plausible mechanism underlying the favorable impact of this well-being dimension on physical health. Given its protective effects, interventions aimed at increasing purpose in life may facilitate adherence to better dietary patterns, which, in turn, will reduce the risk for obesity-related chronic diseases. Full article
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13 pages, 458 KiB  
Article
Improving Purpose in Life in School Settings
by Chiara Ruini, Elisa Albieri, Fedra Ottolini and Francesca Vescovelli
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(18), 6772; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20186772 - 17 Sep 2023
Viewed by 984
Abstract
Background and aim: The dimension of purpose in life (PiL) is one of the core features of eudaimonia and plays a crucial role in developmental settings. However, few studies have examined purpose in life in younger generations and verified if it is amenable [...] Read more.
Background and aim: The dimension of purpose in life (PiL) is one of the core features of eudaimonia and plays a crucial role in developmental settings. However, few studies have examined purpose in life in younger generations and verified if it is amenable to improvements following a wellbeing-promoting intervention. The aim of the present investigation is to explore correlates and predictors of purpose in life in school children and to test if it can be ameliorated after school-based wellbeing interventions. Methods: A total of 614 students were recruited in various schools in Northern Italy. Of these, 456 belonged to junior high and high schools and were randomly assigned to receive a protocol of School Well-Being Therapy (WBT) or a psychoeducational intervention (controls). A total of 158 students were enrolled in elementary schools and received a positive narrative intervention based on fairytales or were randomly assigned to controlled conditions. All students were assessed pre- and post- intervention with Ryff scales of eudaimonic wellbeing (short version) and with other self-report measures of anxiety, depression and somatization. Additionally, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was administered to their schoolteachers as observed–rated evaluation. Results: In both elementary and high schools, purpose in life after the intervention was predicted by initial depressive symptoms and by group assignment (positive interventions vs. controls). In older students, PiL was predicted by female gender and anxiety levels, while no specific strengths identified by teachers were associated with PiL. Conclusions: PiL plays an important and strategic role in developmental settings, where students can develop skills and capacities to set meaningful goals in life. Depressive symptoms and anxiety can be obstacles to developing PiL in students, while positive school-based interventions can promote this core dimension of eudaimonia. Full article
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13 pages, 511 KiB  
Article
Unpacking Psychological Vulnerabilities in Deaths of Despair
by Jieun Song, Sohyun Kang and Carol D. Ryff
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(15), 6480; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20156480 - 31 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1177
Abstract
Recent demographic findings show increased rates of death due to suicide, drug addictions, and alcoholism among midlife white adults of lower socioeconomic status (SES). These have been described as “deaths of despair” though little research has directly assessed psychological vulnerabilities. This study used [...] Read more.
Recent demographic findings show increased rates of death due to suicide, drug addictions, and alcoholism among midlife white adults of lower socioeconomic status (SES). These have been described as “deaths of despair” though little research has directly assessed psychological vulnerabilities. This study used longitudinal data from the Midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS) study to investigate whether low levels of eudaimonic and hedonic well-being predict increased risk of deaths of despair compared to other leading causes of death (cancer, heart disease). The investigation focused on 695 reported deaths with cause of death information obtained from 2004 to 2022 via NDI Plus. Key questions were whether risk for deaths due to despair (suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism) compared to deaths due to cancer or heart disease were differentially predicted by deficiencies in well-being, after adjusting for sociodemographic variables. Low levels of purpose in life, positive relations with others, personal growth and positive affect predicted significantly greater likelihood of deaths of despair compared to deaths due to heart disease, with such patterns prominent among better-educated adults. The findings bring attention to ongoing intervention efforts to improve psychological well-being. Full article
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15 pages, 954 KiB  
Article
Meaning in Life, Social Axioms, and Emotional Outcomes during the First Outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong
by Rong-Wei Sun, Esther Yuet Ying Lau, Sing-Hang Cheung and Chi-Keung Chan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(13), 6224; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20136224 - 25 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1323
Abstract
Social unrest, coupled with the outbreak of COVID-19, was a double-hit for Hong Kong in early 2020. Those stressful societal situations not only trigger negative emotions, such as anxiety and/or depression, but also consolidate a person’s belief towards oneself (i.e., meaning in life) [...] Read more.
Social unrest, coupled with the outbreak of COVID-19, was a double-hit for Hong Kong in early 2020. Those stressful societal situations not only trigger negative emotions, such as anxiety and/or depression, but also consolidate a person’s belief towards oneself (i.e., meaning in life) and society (i.e., social axioms). The study included 2031 participants from the Formation and Transformation of Beliefs in Chinese (FTBC) project dataset. The data were collected in Hong Kong from February 2020 to March 2020 (double-hit). Path analysis and multiple regression were used to examine the mediating and moderating effects of the presence subscale (P) of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ) on the relations between social axioms and negative emotions. Results showed that low MLQ-P mediated the associations between cynicism and negative emotions and between low religiosity and negative emotions and moderated the relation between social cynicism and emotional outcomes. Exploratory analyses showed that MLQ-Search (S) mediated the relations between reward for application and negative emotions, between social complexity and negative emotions, and between fate control and negative emotions, and moderated the relation between religiosity and stress. As far as we know, this study reported the first evidence of the role of meaning in life in explaining and modifying the associations between social axioms and mood states. The presence of and search for meaning in life seem to work differently with respect to the relations between social axioms and negative emotions, with important implications for understanding the dynamics of social and personal beliefs in affecting mental health in times of large-scale public crisis. Full article
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14 pages, 931 KiB  
Article
Self-Rated Health and Mortality: Moderation by Purpose in Life
by Elliot M. Friedman and Elizabeth Teas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(12), 6171; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20126171 - 19 Jun 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1046
Abstract
Poor self-rated health consistently predicts reduced longevity, even when objective disease conditions and risk factors are considered. Purpose in life is also a reliable predictor of diverse health outcomes, including greater longevity. Given prior work in which we showed that purpose in life [...] Read more.
Poor self-rated health consistently predicts reduced longevity, even when objective disease conditions and risk factors are considered. Purpose in life is also a reliable predictor of diverse health outcomes, including greater longevity. Given prior work in which we showed that purpose in life moderated the association between chronic conditions and health-related biological factors, the aim of the current study was to examine the role of purpose in life in moderating the relationship between subjective health and mortality. We also examined potential differences in these associations by race/ethnicity. Data were from two large national longitudinal studies—the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study—with a 12- to 14-year follow-up period for mortality estimates. Results of logistic regression analyses showed that purpose in life and self-rated health were both significantly positively associated with longevity, and that purpose in life significantly moderated the relationship between self-rated health and mortality. Stratified analyses showed similar results across all racial/ethnic groups, with the exception of Black MIDUS participants. These results suggest that greater purpose in life may provide a buffer against the greater probability of mortality associated with poor subjective health. Full article
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13 pages, 349 KiB  
Article
Do Purpose in Life and Social Support Mediate the Association between Religiousness/Spirituality and Mortality? Evidence from the MIDUS National Sample
by Jennifer Morozink Boylan, Christianne Biggane, Jonathan A. Shaffer, Caitlyn L. Wilson, Kaitlyn M. Vagnini and Kevin S. Masters
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(12), 6112; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20126112 - 13 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1328
Abstract
We examined prospective associations between religiousness/spirituality (R/S; i.e., service attendance, R/S identity, R/S coping, spirituality) and all-cause mortality in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) sample, including whether having a purpose in life and positive social support are indirect pathways through which [...] Read more.
We examined prospective associations between religiousness/spirituality (R/S; i.e., service attendance, R/S identity, R/S coping, spirituality) and all-cause mortality in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) sample, including whether having a purpose in life and positive social support are indirect pathways through which R/S predicts mortality. We examined service attendance and a composite of R/S identity, R/S coping, and spirituality from the baseline wave (1995–1996; n = 6120 with complete data), purpose in life and positive social support from the second wave (2004–2006), and vital status through 2020 (n = 1711 decedents). Cox regression models showed that attending religious services more than weekly and approximately weekly was associated with a lower mortality risk compared to never attending in the adjusted models (>weekly vs. never, HR (95% CI) = 0.72 (0.61, 0.85); weekly vs. never, HR (95% CI) = 0.76 (0.66, 0.88)). The R/S composite was also associated with lower mortality risk in the adjusted models (HR (95% CI) = 0.92 (0.87, 0.97)). Indirect effects from R/S to mortality via purpose in life and positive social support were significantly different from zero. These findings highlight the importance of multidimensional aspects of R/S for population health and point to purpose in life and positive social support as underlying pathways between R/S and mortality. Full article
12 pages, 327 KiB  
Article
The Relationship between Meaning in Life and the Childhood Family Environment among Emerging Adults
by Emily Dameron and Marcie C. Goeke-Morey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(11), 5945; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20115945 - 24 May 2023
Viewed by 1869
Abstract
This study investigates the impact of the childhood family environment on reported meaning in life among emerging adults (n = 507) at a private, urban, religious university. This study found that participants who reported growing up in an emotionally warm family environment [...] Read more.
This study investigates the impact of the childhood family environment on reported meaning in life among emerging adults (n = 507) at a private, urban, religious university. This study found that participants who reported growing up in an emotionally warm family environment ultimately reported more meaning in life as adults and that this effect was mediated by loneliness. This suggests that people from emotionally cold and rejecting early family environments may struggle with meaning in life as adults because they are lonelier. This research contributes a developmental perspective to understanding meaning in life. The public health implications of these findings are discussed. Future research should consider accounting for the effects of early life experiences on meaning in life. Full article
14 pages, 449 KiB  
Article
Biopsychosocial Factors That Influence the Purpose in Life among Working Adults and Retirees
by Anabela Coelho, Manuel Lopes, Marta Barata, Sofia Sousa, Margarida Goes, Florbela Bia, Ana Dias, Ana João, Leonel Lusquinhos, Henrique Oliveira and Tânia Gaspar
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(8), 5456; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20085456 - 10 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1871
Abstract
This study aimed to identify and characterize biopsychosocial factors that impact the purpose in life (PIL) among adults that are working or already retired. This cross-sectional study includes a sample of 1330 participants, of whom 62.2% were female, with ages ranging from 55 [...] Read more.
This study aimed to identify and characterize biopsychosocial factors that impact the purpose in life (PIL) among adults that are working or already retired. This cross-sectional study includes a sample of 1330 participants, of whom 62.2% were female, with ages ranging from 55 and 84 years, with a mean of 61.93 years and a standard deviation of 7.65. Results suggest that the education level, stress, spirituality (religion) and optimism, social support from friends, and quality of life related to physical health seem to contribute positively to the PIL for both groups. However, some variables such as age, marital status and environmental quality of life help explain the PIL of retired people and the quality of life related to social support helps explain the PIL of working adults. Overall, the reported findings suggest that the purpose in life is strongly related to physical, psychological, social and environmental health factors. It is highlighted that working adults and retired people have their purpose in life related to similar factors and others specific to each life stage, suggesting the need for crucial interventions to promote a healthier and more positive aging process. Full article
15 pages, 382 KiB  
Article
Reciprocal Associations between Depressive Symptoms, Life Satisfaction, and Eudaimonic Well-Being in Older Adults over a 16-Year Period
by Mohsen Joshanloo and Ana Blasco-Belled
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(3), 2374; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20032374 - 29 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1790
Abstract
The dual-continua model of mental health distinguishes between mental illness (presence of mental disorders, such as depression) and mental well-being (presence of positive traits and abilities). This model also distinguishes between hedonic well-being (e.g., affect balance and life satisfaction) and eudaimonic well-being (i.e., [...] Read more.
The dual-continua model of mental health distinguishes between mental illness (presence of mental disorders, such as depression) and mental well-being (presence of positive traits and abilities). This model also distinguishes between hedonic well-being (e.g., affect balance and life satisfaction) and eudaimonic well-being (i.e., optimal psychological and social functioning, as indicated for example by having a purpose in life). We examined the relationships between depressive symptoms (a common indicator of mental illness), life satisfaction, and eudaimonic well-being. The study used a sample of 17,056 participants from England whose data were collected at eight intervals of approximately two years over a 16-year period, from 2004 to 2019. The mean age of the sample in the first wave was 58.843 years, with a standard deviation of 12.617 years (women = 55.2%). We disentangled within- and between-person sources of variance to examine whether increases or decreases in one variable preceded changes in the other variables at the next time point. We found positive reciprocal relationships between life satisfaction and eudaimonic well-being and negative reciprocal relationships between the two well-being dimensions and depressive symptoms. These results suggest that within-person increases in well-being are followed by future decreases in depressive symptoms, and within-person increases in depressive symptoms are followed by future decreases in well-being. Therefore, low levels of mental well-being in older adults may be considered a risk factor for depression, and well-being interventions (such as those focused on meaning-making) may serve as a protective factor against depression in older adults. Full article

Review

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21 pages, 423 KiB  
Review
Meaningful Work, Well-Being, and Health: Enacting a Eudaimonic Vision
by Andrew Soren and Carol D. Ryff
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(16), 6570; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20166570 - 12 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4630
Abstract
Work is one of the most enduring and consequential life domains regarding how meaning and purpose impact health and well-being. This review first examines scientific findings from the MIDUS (Midlife in the U.S.) national longitudinal study that have linked work to well-being and [...] Read more.
Work is one of the most enduring and consequential life domains regarding how meaning and purpose impact health and well-being. This review first examines scientific findings from the MIDUS (Midlife in the U.S.) national longitudinal study that have linked work to well-being and health. Most have focused on adverse work or work conditions as influences on poor health, with a few recent findings investigating links to purpose and other aspects of eudaimonic well-being. Organizational scholarship is then selectively reviewed to show how meaningful work is often linked to motivation, performance, and commitment. Paradoxically, meaning can also lead to the exploitation and erosion of health and well-being when managed without regard for decent working conditions. Recent workplace phenomena known as the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting underscore the societal consequences of work without meaning or adequate working conditions. Both the scientific and organizational literature are enriched by a vision of meaningful work rooted in Aristotle’s writings about virtue, ethics, and the realization of potential. Evidence-based practices tied to these eudaimonic ideals are examined at multiple levels, including the societal context (public policy), organizational conditions (culture, human resource practices, leadership), and individual strategies to find meaning, engagement, and fulfillment in work. A concluding section highlights strengths and omissions in the scientific and organizational literature and, going forward, calls for greater interplay among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in enacting eudaimonic ideals. Full article
14 pages, 1059 KiB  
Review
The Beyond-Human Natural World: Providing Meaning and Making Meaning
by Holli-Anne Passmore and Ashley N. Krause
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(12), 6170; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20126170 - 19 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3623
Abstract
Much academic and media attention has been focused on how nature contributes to psychological health, yet, most of this focus has been on happiness or hedonic well-being. Although numerous writers and researchers have linked connecting with nature as a pathway to meaning in [...] Read more.
Much academic and media attention has been focused on how nature contributes to psychological health, yet, most of this focus has been on happiness or hedonic well-being. Although numerous writers and researchers have linked connecting with nature as a pathway to meaning in life, an integrated overview has not yet (to our knowledge) been offered. Our manuscript is thus of both theoretical and practical importance with respect to finding meaning in life. In this hybrid commentary/review paper, we examine the link between meaning in life and relating to the beyond-human natural world. Through presenting supportive empirical research and interdisciplinary insights, we make the case that connecting with the natural world provides us with meaning in various ways. We discuss how nature is a common source of meaning in people’s lives and how connecting with nature helps to provide meaning by addressing our need to find coherence, significance/mattering, and purpose (the three aspects comprising the tripartite model of meaning life). We also consider how connecting with nature enhances our experiential appreciation for life, a fourth aspect of meaning in life recently proposed. Our discussion then expands to examining nature as a place of attachment. Going beyond how nature provides us with meaning, we consider how engaging in nature-based activities provides an avenue for many people to build meaningful lives. We close by considering how threats to nature are a threat to meaning in life. Full article
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11 pages, 579 KiB  
Review
Beyond Finding Purpose: Motivating a Translational Science of Purpose Acquisition
by Anthony L. Burrow
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(12), 6091; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20126091 - 09 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1384
Abstract
A broad interest in finding purpose is understandable, as having purpose is situated in notions of “the good life” and is linked in studies to greater health and wellbeing. Yet, the empirical basis for whether purpose is truly findable is inadequate, lacking guidance [...] Read more.
A broad interest in finding purpose is understandable, as having purpose is situated in notions of “the good life” and is linked in studies to greater health and wellbeing. Yet, the empirical basis for whether purpose is truly findable is inadequate, lacking guidance from theories predicting behavioral capacities that drive its acquisition. If feeling purposeful is as favorable as studies suggest, then more transparent and precise explanations of how it is derived are needed; otherwise, the field risks illuminating this resource while leaving the pathways to it unlit. Here, I call for a translational science of purpose acquisition directed at gathering and disseminating evidence of the processes by which this sense can be cultivated. I introduce a minimal viable framework for integrating basic and applied investigations into purpose by bridging laboratory research, intervention and implementation efforts, community-engaged practices, and policies to accelerate testing and strategies for enhancing this salubrious sense in people’s lives. Full article
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Other

12 pages, 310 KiB  
Case Report
Dysfunctional Schemas from Preadolescence as One Major Avenue by Which Meaning Has Impact on Mental Health
by Nathalie André and Roy F. Baumeister
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(13), 6225; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20136225 - 25 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1384
Abstract
A main way by which meaning influences mental health is by the formation of interpersonal schemas that specify what to expect from others and how to treat them. Particularly during preadolescence (a developmental phase focused on interpersonal skills), young people living in a [...] Read more.
A main way by which meaning influences mental health is by the formation of interpersonal schemas that specify what to expect from others and how to treat them. Particularly during preadolescence (a developmental phase focused on interpersonal skills), young people living in a stressful or hurtful environment can form atypical schemas that can help them survive but that produce serious problems when later applied to newly forming adult relationships. We provide three case studies illustrating this process. A boy learned to cope by withdrawing from social interaction and excelling in schoolwork. A girl learned to cope by denying her own needs and sacrificing herself for the welfare of others. Another girl coped by pervasive distrust of others and by becoming assertively independent. These children learned well enough to adapt to these dysfunctional relationships so as to suffer as little as possible, and they even developed some personal skills and resources. However, the rigid schemas had a destructive impact on their adult relationships. Proposals for interventions to change meaning and behaviors are discussed. Full article
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