The Meaningful Self

  • Michelle Shir-Wise
Part of the Leisure Studies in a Global Era book series (LSGE)


This chapter addresses the question of meaningfulness. It explores arenas of happiness indicated by participants when asked about satisfaction, conceptions of the ideal self and questions about happiness. The chapter distinguishes between pleasure and happiness, the second found to be linked to values and meaning. Family and giving to others, as well as an appreciation of the simple things in life, are presented as sources of happiness and central to a meaningful self.


  1. Baumeister, Roy F. 1991. Meanings of Life. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, Roy F., and Mark R. Leary. 1995. The Need to Belong, Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation. Psychological Bulletin 117 (3): 497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumeister, Roy F., Kathleen D. Vohs, Jennifer L. Aaker, and Emily N. Garbinsky. 2013. Some Key Differences Between a Happy Life and a Meaningful Life. The Journal of Positive Psychology 8 (6): 505–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihalyi. 1990. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  5. Davis, Wayne. 1981. Pleasure and Happiness. Philosophical Studies 39 (3): 305–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fave, Delle, Ingrid Brdar Antonella, Teresa Freire, Dianne Vella-Brodrick, and Marié P. Wissing. 2011. The Eudaimonic and Hedonic Components of Happiness: Qualitative and Quantitative Findings. Social Indicators Research 100 (2): 185–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Frankl, Victor. E. [1959] 2006. Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  8. Geertz, Clifford. 1973. Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays, 3–30. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  9. Giddens, Anthony. 1984. The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Henderson, Karla. 1984. Volunteerism as Leisure. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 13 (1): 55–63.Google Scholar
  11. Illouz, Eva. 2003. Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Kahneman, Daniel Alan, B. Krueger, David A. Schkade, Norbert Schwarz, and Arthur A. Stone. 2004. A Survey Method for Characterizing Daily Life Experience: The Day Reconstruction Method. Science 306 (5702): 1776–1780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. MacKenzie, Michael J., and Roy F. Baumeister. 2014. Meaning in Life: Nature, Needs and Myths. In Meaning in Positive and Existential Psychology, ed. A. Batthyany and P. Russo-Netzer, 25–37. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Parker, Stanley R. 1992. Volunteering as Serious Leisure. Journal of Applied Recreation Research 17 (1): 1–11.Google Scholar
  15. Ryan, Richard M., and Edward L. Deci. 2001. On Happiness and Human Potentials: A Review of Research on Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-Being. Annual Review of Psychology 52 (1): 141–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ryff, Carol D. 1995. Psychological Well-Being in Adult Life. Current Directions in Psychological Science 4 (4): 99–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ryff, Carol D., and Burton H. Singer. 2008. Know Thyself and Become What You Are: A Eudaimonic Approach to Psychological Well-Being. Journal of Happiness Studies 9 (1): 13–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Silber, Ilana Friedrich. 2011. Emotions as Regime of Justification? The Case of Civic Anger. European Journal of Social Theory 14 (3): 301–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Stebbins, Robert A. 1996. Volunteering: A Serious Leisure Perspective. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 25 (2): 211–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Swidler, Anne. 2001. Talk of Love: How Culture Matters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Taylor, Charles. 1985. The Person. In The Category of the Person: Anthropology, Philosophy, History, ed. M. Carrithers, S. Collins, and S. Lukes, 257–282. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Waterman, Alan S. 1993. Two Conceptions of Happiness: Contrasts of Personal Expressiveness (Eudaimonia) and Hedonic Enjoyment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 64 (4): 678–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Waterman, Alan S., Seth J. Schwartz, and Regina Conti. 2006. The Implications of Two Conceptions of Happiness (Hedonic Enjoyment and Eudaimonia) for the Understanding of Intrinsic Motivation. Journal of Happiness Studies 9: 41–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. World Happiness Report. 2017. Fifth World Happiness Report Ranks Happiest Countries. Accessed July 2018.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Shir-Wise
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ResearcherRamat GanIsrael

Personalised recommendations