New research identifies 3 factors that promote feelings of a ‘life well lived’

A new article published in Frontiers in Psychology attempts to quantify the factors that lead to a fulfilled life, such as the ability to pursue one’s own goals, take advantage of opportunities, and have the courage to do what one thinks is most important in life. According to the researchers, people derive their fulfillment from many things, but three factors dominate. They call these factors: “expanded self and life”, “meaningful life” and “positive impact and legacy”.

“Expanded self and life, life worth living, and positive impact and legacy are unique characteristics of flourishing and set it apart from other concepts such as happiness,” Doris Baumann says. and Willibald Ruch, psychologists at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and lead authors of the study. to research. “It’s not accomplishment per se, but what feels worthy and stays worthy later in life that fulfills a human.”

Here is how researchers define the components of life flourishing:

  • Self and life unfolded refers to the extent to which one can pursue personally meaningful projects, be oneself, and live a real life.
  • A dignified life relates to the perception that one can invest one’s own abilities well and that one can live a meaningful and worthwhile life.
  • Positive impact and legacy means making a positive difference, leaving something of value, and doing something with your life that matters to others.

To better understand the composition of life fulfilment, the researchers studied perceptions of life fulfilment in two samples – the first among 282 adults, aged 50 to 93, and the second in a sample of 406 adults, aged 40 to 85. They asked participants how concepts such as making a positive difference, pursuing authentic pursuits, being true to themselves, making a contribution, being honest, and having a calling influenced the degree to which people felt fulfilled in their lives.

The authors found that the three-pronged criteria were the most accurate way to summarize the patterns they observed in the data.

They also found that people who viewed the topic of a fulfilling life as important and who spent more time thinking about it rated their lives as more fulfilled.

Beyond their criteria, the authors also point out that certain character strengths are linked to the fulfillment of life.

“The character strengths of hope, striving for goals, and zest (for example, doing things wholeheartedly) are important for a fulfilling life,” they say. “Other strengths such as social intelligence, leadership, perspective and bravery are also relevant.”

The authors reported no association between life fulfilment and gender, but found that life fulfilment increased slightly with age. Married people and parents also reported higher levels of fulfillment in their lives, particularly on the ‘dignified life’ dimension.

Other factors that supported a fulfilling life were:

  • Volunteering
  • Spirituality
  • Financial stability
  • Education
  • Positive childhood experiences

The researchers note that leading a fulfilling life is a long-term process, not one that can be achieved in a short time. It also requires a spirit of giving.

“The good life is not a self-centered life,” they say. “Helping others, sharing your experiences or making a difference in your environment — which can happen on a small scale — makes people feel like their lives matter. The beauty of this concept is that one can make a positive difference in another person’s life, regardless of age or resources.

A full interview with Doris Baumann and Willibald Ruch discussing their research on life flourishing can be found here: Inspire wisdom on how to live a fulfilling life


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