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Home » A Scientific Approach to a Meaningful Life: Joshua Hicks (Transcript)

A Scientific Approach to a Meaningful Life: Joshua Hicks (Transcript)

Here is full text and summary of Joshua Hicks’ talk titled “A Scientific Approach to a Meaningful Life” at TEDxTAMU conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


How meaningful is your life? I’m Dr. Joshua Hicks. I’m a professor in the psychological and brain sciences here at Texas A&M University. I’ve asked this question to over 100,000 people over the past 20 years. Most people say their life’s pretty meaningful.

So most people really rate themselves as saying, you know, their life is very or extremely meaningful. For some people, though, this question seems to be more serious. Those who lack meaning, a sizable portion of people, it varies in how much their life’s meaningful. They don’t always think that their life has meaning.

We ask this question to people not simply because we care about these individual differences and levels of meaning, but because we think it’s important. The answer to this little question is important.

The idea that it’s important is based on many great thinkers, like Viktor Frankl and Irvin Yalom, who have argued that the experience of meaning in life is essential for optimal human functioning. Their ideas, and the ideas of many others, are corroborated by many, over thousands of research studies showing that the experience of meaning are people who feel that their lives are meaningful, are less likely to be depressed, more likely to think of thoughts of suicide, more likely to be happy.

It’s related to psychological well-being, a predictor of psychological well-being, and not just psychological well-being, but physical well-being.

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