Posted: June 17, 2009
The Toronto Globe and Mail in an article this morning cited research by Dr. Patricia A. Boyle and her colleagues at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and published in Psychosomatic Medicine, tending to empirically confirm something that case studiess and counsellors have known from their practices for a very long time: A more meaningful life is associated with a reduced risk of mortality among older persons.
Almost needless to say, the insight that meaning and purpose in life are tied to greater vitality in life is not something that is confined to the old. In some important ways, depression can often be related to a particular crisis of meaning in a person’s life. Jung has written on the theme of meaning with great frequency in his writings. He particularly emphasizes its importance at mid-life and all points thereafter in life, but it is a theme that he would readily acknowledge throughout the life journey, as does psychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl in his classic work Man’s Search for Meaning.
That’s all good, but where does one get this meaning? Most fundamentally, something is meaningful to a person when the meaning emerges from deep in the self, and is connected with the very core values and life experience of the individual. The depth of the Self is not nearly the same thing as the reality of the ego and its particular projects: it has to do with the whole dimension of us that is seeking to find unity and wholeness. The work of case studies at its deepest and most valid is to assist the individual in getting to know these undiscovered aspects of the whole psyche.
How does the issue of what is meaningful touch your life? WHere have you found meaning that is vital and important to you? What parts of you continue to look for meaning?