Self-Regulation Facilitates Meaning in Life

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Abstract

Meaning is a central feature of human life. Our overarching proposition is that self-regulation helps facilitate meaning in life. We propose that purposeful, effortful, and directive actions that regulate selfish impulses are necessary to continually develop a sense of meaning in life. We explain how self-regulatory processes map onto this process: the drive for meaning is governed by internalized standards of meaning, people monitor their experiences to ensure a fit between their experiences and standards of meaning, and strength is required for deliberative behaviors aimed at reaffirming and regaining meaning. Moreover, we outline various self-regulatory pathways to gain meaning via coherence, significance, and purpose. Finally, we suggest various ways to test and expand our model and hypotheses.

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