Having a Sense of Meaning in Life Is Good for You — So How Do You Get One?
Lisa A. Williams: We know a few things about participants in Andrew Steptoe and Daisy Fancourt’s study who reported relatively higher meaning in life during the first survey. For instance, they contacted their friends frequently, belonged to social groups, engaged in volunteering, and maintained a suite of healthy habits relating to sleep, diet, and exercise. Backing up the idea that seeking out these qualities might be a good place to start in the quest for meaning, several studies have causally linked these indicators to meaning in life. For instance, spending money on others and volunteering, eating fruit and vegetables, and being in a well-connected social network have all been prospectively linked to acquiring a sense of meaning in life. For a temporary boost, some activities have documented benefits for meaning in the short term: envisioning a happier future, writing a note of gratitude to another person, engaging in nostalgic reverie, and bringing to mind one’s close relationships.