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.
Meanings of Life