There’s an Option Beyond Happiness and Meaning.
Philosophers and psychologists have long debated the tradeoff between a life seeking happiness and one searching for meaning. While research has shown that having and raising kids gives you long-term meaning, there can often be a short-term happiness deficit. Similarly, living a life full of pleasure and fun can offer you short-term enjoyment but not a lot of long-term sustenance.
However, a recent study points to a third way to live a good life: a psychologically rich life. An article in Psychological Review by Shigehiro Oishi and Erin Westgate suggests there are three unique characteristics in this third path:
1. Variety. The psychologically rich life is filled with unique and unusual experiences.
2. Interest. A rich life is a life of interesting experiences AND takes an interest in the world.
3. Perspective changes. The psychologically rich life isn’t just about having exciting and varied experiences; it is about being changed by those experiences.
As I read this, I feel a great sense of pride that this is precisely what MEA is trying to offer the world through our blending of curiosity, wisdom, play, and emotional depth—a combination we believe leads to a greater sense of connection to oneself, others, and something bigger than ourselves. According to the researchers, here are some of the other qualities that come from taking this path: open-mindedness, personal agency, adventurousness, self-acceptance, freedom, purposefulness, and having positive relations with a broad diversity of people.
Of course, this psychologically rich path requires commitment. As the researchers Oishi and Westgate say in their paper, “Those leading happy and/or meaningful lives tend to prefer to maintain social order and the status quo, whereas those leading psychologically rich lives seem to embrace social change.” We hope you’ll make the commitment to experience an MEA workshop in 2022 as your investment in curating your psychologically rich life. Who knows, you might also make the world a better place?