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Ideas in “The Meanings of Life” by Roy Baumeister Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Sep 27th, 2020


Every person yearns for a fruitful, happy, and rewarding life. More often than not, people pursue their goals in life without really understanding the best concepts and practices that can maximize their levels of happiness. It is even more troubling to realize that the concept of the meaning of life is something that has been ignored for many years by people. Without proper knowledge or understanding of the concepts of happiness and meaning, human beings will be unable to realize their potential. This discussion gives a critique and analysis of the ideas and arguments presented in the article “The Meanings of Life” by Roy Baumeister. The presented information can be used by every individual who wants to find meaning in his or her life. The critique goes further to highlight the unique lessons and insights that can be embraced by persons who want to have a purposeful life.

Article Summary

Although many people would say that they want to be happy in their lives, what comes out clearly is that the most sought after the issue is a meaningful lifestyle. After conducting a study targeting 400 individuals aged between 18 and 78, the author and his fellow researchers realized that the terms “happiness” and “meaning” were used interchangeably. Some of the major sources of happiness identified included getting whatever a person needs. Individuals who find their lives much easy will feel happier and contented. Having money to purchase whatever one needs can result in happiness. Good health is another unique attribute that contributes to happiness. That being the case, people who get what they want much easier will have a higher happiness rating. Such individuals will also not likely fee bad. The author goes further to indicate that the frequency of bad or good feelings will not be relevant to the concept of meaning. The outstanding idea from the article is that meaning is life is something capable of flourishing in a forbidding condition. The article goes further to indicate that meaning and feeling will be experienced differently when it comes to time. This is the case because happiness is about the present moment while meaning focuses on the future. According to the author, individuals who took the time to reflect and focus on their future will have more meaningful lives. However, such lives would be characterized by unhappiness. People who want to maximize their levels of happiness, according to the author, should learn to focus on the present moment. On the other hand, the meaning is a concept that focuses on the assembly of the present, past, and future. Since happiness appears to be fleeting, short-lived, and present-focused, people should be ready to focus on meaning because it extends beyond the current situation.

The author has gone further to indicate that a big portion of human happiness will come from inside and not outside. This is the reason why happiness will be felt today and not tomorrow. It is also agreeable that the level of happiness is something uncountable. Meaning, unlike happiness, has been observed to be lasting and impactful. This reasoning explains why the move to cultivate meaning will result in long-lasting happiness. Social connection emerged as a unique factor dictating people’s happiness and meaning. People who live alone will have reduced levels of meaningfulness and happiness. People who support or help others tend to develop meaningful lives. Individuals who spend more time with their friends will record increased levels of happiness. However, this social behavior will not contribute a lot to meaning. The discussion goes further to indicate that living with loved ones might not always result in happiness because of the stakes involved. The professor has gone further to indicate that problems, stresses, and struggles in life will result in meaning and not happiness. Individuals who have meaningful lives will tend to encounter unpleasant or negative events. These experiences will also reduce the level of happiness. The meaningfulness of human life is, therefore, something that has its unique properties. The author indicates that the meaning in life is a powerful notion that guides people as they pursue their present and future goals. According to the article, the meaning is something that has values capable of guiding people to make relevant judgments between the bad and the good. Such judgments will guide individuals to re-pattern their lives and focus on the best goals.


The ideas presented in this article can support the needs of more people. With this knowledge in mind, people should be encouraged to pursue a meaningful life. By so doing, these people will find it easier to plan their future lives and stay happy for the longest time possible. The message gained from this analysis is that meaningfulness in life is mostly associated with the things that make it easier for an individual to promote personal expression. Meaning, therefore, is one of the powerful tools that define human life. This happens to be the case because life is an ongoing process characterized by changes. Human beings should always understand that changes are inevitable in life. However, no one will want such changes to be eternal. Humans (and all living things) tend to yearn for harmonious relationships with others and stability. People should promote the concept of posterity in order to ensure their descendants lead meaningful lives. Although life will constantly change as long as a person is alive, the undeniable fact is that every person will be working hard to reduce chaos and have a stable status. When one’s life is meaningful, he or she will be in a position to view things from the right perspective. It is worth noting that individuals who want to get a single answer for the meaning of human life will never get one. This happens to be the case because there are unique forces that dictate life such as value, self-worth, and purpose. In order to have a meaningful life, people should have a clear purpose, focus on their self-worth, and have value. When the concepts described in the article are used adequately, more people will find it easier to have meaningful lives and consequently determine their levels of happiness.


Meaning and happiness are concepts that have been used interchangeably by many people. Although the two conceptions are somehow related, Baumeister acknowledges that happiness is mainly dictated by a person’s ability to get what he or she wants. On the other hand, meaningfulness is about doing activities or things that can maximize self-expression. The article, therefore, shows conclusively that the pursuit of meaning in life is an evidence-based practice that can guide people to achieve their goals, differentiate the bad from the good, justify their decisions and actions, and eventually regard themselves as worthy human beings.

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1. IvyPanda. "Ideas in “The Meanings of Life” by Roy Baumeister." September 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ideas-in-the-meanings-of-life-by-roy-baumeister/.


IvyPanda. "Ideas in “The Meanings of Life” by Roy Baumeister." September 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ideas-in-the-meanings-of-life-by-roy-baumeister/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Ideas in “The Meanings of Life” by Roy Baumeister." September 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ideas-in-the-meanings-of-life-by-roy-baumeister/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Ideas in “The Meanings of Life” by Roy Baumeister'. 27 September.

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