Meanings of Life

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Guilford Press, 1991 - Psychology - 426 pages
2 Reviews
In this extraordinary book, an eminent social scientist explores what empirical studies from diverse fields tell us about the human condition. Meanings of Life draws together evidence from psychology, history, anthropology, and sociology, integrating copious research findings into a clear and conclusive discussion of how people attempt to make sense of their lives. In a lively and accessible style, emphasising facts over theories, Baumeister explores why people desire meaning in their lives, how these meanings function, what forms they take, and what happens when life loses meaning.
The volume includes a review of interdisciplinary literature that covers what the social sciences say about such matters as happiness, suffering, and death. It explores people's need for a sense of purpose, values, control over their lives, and a sense of self worth. Divorce and religious conversion are also examined. The book attempts to analyze the myths of fulfilment and higher meaning, illusions of eternity, the suppression of female sexuality, the failure of the work ethic, why death is more threatening to us than it was to our ancestors, and how suffering stimulates the quest for meaning. It demonstrates how happiness depends more upon one's interpretation than actual circumstances, and shows that the keys to happiness are attitude, judicious comparison, a bit of luck and a healthy dose of self-deception.
  

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Review: Meanings of Life

User Review  - Lucian Muresan - Goodreads

Pros: Very interesting subject to cover. Identifies the major sources of meaning in life Attempts to bring evidence from several previous studies in drawing conclusions. Cons: Lack of a solid ... Read full review

Contents

Who Says Life Has No Meaning?
3
Coming to Terms with Meaning
12
The Four Needs for Meaning An Existential Shopping List
29
The Myth of Higher Meaning
58
Looking for Answers
75
SelfIdentity and the Value Gap
77
Work Work Work Work
116
Passionate Love Domestic Bliss
145
Suffering and Unhappiness
232
Meanings of Death
269
Changes in Meaning
293
Life Change Adding and Subtracting Meanings
295
Why Women Once Disliked Sex
328
Epilogue
356
The Work Ethic
371
The Parenthood Paradox
388

Religion
182
Adjustment Wellbeing and Threat
207
Happiness
209
REFERENCES
396
INDEX
418
Copyright

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About the author (1991)

Baumeister received his PhD in experimental social psychology from Princeton University in 1978. Since then, his research career has taken him to the University of California at Berkeley, to the University of Texas at Austin, to the Max-Planck-Institute in Munich, Germany, and to Case Western Reserve University, where in 1992 he was awarded the Elsie B. Smith Professorship in Liberal Arts. The recipient of an American Psychological Association award for his first book, he has authored over 100 publications and numerous articles in professional journals and scholarly volumes.

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