Author: Brad Bell, Ph.D.
This book contains ideas about finding
meaning in life, adversity, and work.
Seven possible sources of finding
meaning in life are described. These
are authenticity, creativity, continuity,
wholeness, coherence, purpose, and
Sources of Meaning
Finding Meaning in Adversity
8 The Flip Side
9 The Big Picture
Finding Meaning in Work
10 Job Characteristics
11 Self-Concept Compatibility
12 Coworker Relations
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
My appendix ruptured when I was 12. I
remember feeling no pain after waking up from the
operation. One night I became vividly aware of my
true situation. I could have requested that the nurse
come to do something about my pain. However, I
did nothing about my pain that night. I believe I
needed to experience the pain in order to find
meaning in this experience. Feeling no pain was
incompatible with being very sick. Feeling pain
made my hospital experience more real.
My hospital experience taught me a valuable
lesson. A sense of realness may be necessary to
find meaning in some experiences. Authenticity may
play a role in how much meaning we find in life.
Excerpt from Chapter 4:
When I was an undergraduate student I would
listen to a particular song a few times before going to
class. There was something magical about the way
this song made me feel. It helped me to get through
the day. Why was it such a great song? When I
analyzed the song, the song lost its magical appeal.
The lyrics seemed overly idealistic, the melody was
too simplistic, and the vocals were not exceptional.
This anecdote suggests that some things are best
experienced as a whole without trying to evaluate the
parts. The song I used to listen to as an
undergraduate student only had great value if I didn't
think about what attributes made it a great song.
Wholeness is a principle that may play an
important role in finding meaning in certain
experiences. Consequently, wholeness can also have
an impact on the perceived meaningfulness of our
Excerpt from Chapter 8:
Adversity can lead to self-knowledge. For
example, Rokach (1990) found that self-reflection
was a way that some people reported coping with
loneliness. This would include such things as
thinking about what really matters in life, sorting out
feelings, and learning about what you like to do.
Tragedy may lead to discovering talents and
interests. Imagine, for example, that you were in an
automobile accident that left you paralyzed. It is
unlikely that you will ever walk again. Before the
accident, you were very athletic. You loved to run,
swim, hike, and play basketball. For some time
after the accident you felt as though your life was
over. Your mood was dramatically changed when
you began writing poems to express your feelings.
You discovered that you really loved to write. You
decided to take some writing courses at a community
college. Your instructors were impressed with your
writing. This inspired you to become a writer.
Excerpt from the Epilogue:
Wholeness may be a fundamental principle in
our search for meaning. We may strive for
self-unity in which all aspects of our personality are
reflected in our behavior. Authenticity is partly
achieved when there is unity between the inner self
and overt self. Pursuing a combination of personal
goals that reflect a generic life theme can help us to
feel a sense of purpose. The principle of continuity
reflects the need to avoid the feeling that one's life is
fragmented. Meaningful learning is partly analogous
to putting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together.
Reconnecting with the past may help us to perceive
our lives as more integrated. A sense of coherence
involves perceiving how the events in your life
reflect an underlying order. Creative expression can
involve integrating elements into a coherent whole.
Meaningful work may involve working on projects
from start to finish. Finally, finding meaning in
adversity may partly depend on viewing negative
experiences from a more holistic perspective.
Finding Meaning (3rd edition) is available at lulu.com