Psychology of Meaning:
Roadblocks to Finding Meaning
Frankl (1992) suggested that the search for meaning is a primary
motivation. However, there may be several reasons why we may have
difficulty finding meaning in life.
A Lack of Knowledge
Our education may not involve learning about how to find meaning in life.
Moreover, we may not be aware of books on this subject. Consequently, we
may lack knowledge about finding meaning in life. Although we may be able
to make a list of things that are meaningful in our lives, this may not be
sufficient to finding meaning in life. We may also need to become aware of
basic principles or sources of finding meaning in life. Learning about basic
principles or sources may allow us to consider possible factors that may
influence our perceived meaning in life that we were not aware of. In my
book, Finding Meaning (3rd edition), I describe seven possible sources of
finding meaning in life. These are authenticity, creativity, continuity,
wholeness, purpose, coherence, and connectedness.
We may be socialized to value status and property. This may result in
accepting a high status job that is demanding, stressful, and requires working
many hours. As a result, we may not have the time or energy for some things
that can provide considerable meaning in our lives. For example, we may
wish to write a novel, but find that we have little time or energy.
Also, if we highly value status and property, we may accept a job that is
high in pay or status, but is not sufficiently meaningful. The job may not
allow us to be very creative or authentic. It may not be consistent with our
Finding meaning in life may require sufficient self-reflection. In order to
find meaning in life, we may have to construct a story of our lives that makes
sense. This may allow us to see our life as highly coherent. Moreover,
significant self-reflection may be necessary to have a good idea of who we
really are. If we have a good idea of who we really are, we may be able to be
more authentic and have goals that are more purposeful. This could foster a
greater sense of meaning in life.
Bell, B. (2007). Finding meaning (3rd edition). Portland, Oregon: Blue Fox
Frankl, V. E. (1992). Man's search for meaning: An introduction to
logotheraphy (4th edition). Boston: Beacon Press.