What is it about?

This study looks at how doing things that benefit yourself and doing things that benefit society can impact how happy and fulfilled you feel. The researchers asked people to think about activities that make them feel happy and activities that make them feel like their life has meaning. They found that activities that benefit both yourself and society are linked to higher levels of happiness and meaning in life.

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Why is it important?

Understanding how our actions affect our own happiness and the world around us is important for living a fulfilling life. By recognizing the value of helping others and ourselves, we can make choices that lead to greater satisfaction and a sense of purpose. This research highlights the connection between personal well-being and contributing to the well-being of others. Key Takeaways: • Doing things that benefit both yourself and society can lead to greater happiness and a sense of meaning in life. • Recognizing the importance of helping others and yourself can enhance overall well-being. • Balancing self-enhancement and self-transcendence activities is key to experiencing fulfillment. • Our actions have the power to impact not only our own happiness but also the happiness of those around us. • Finding a balance between personal growth and contributing to the greater good can lead to a more meaningful life.


People have studied meaning in life in terms of all kinds of things: They correlated it with income, with education. But it doesn't answer my questions about how people think about what is meaningful. I wanted to directly approach this question, and that's why we focus on how people make meaning judgments in relation to the self. Our current findings suggest that people value self-transcendence in meaning, but it doesn’t mean that self-enhancements, or self-interest, don't matter for meaning and happiness in life.

Fan Yang
University of Chicago

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Self-transcendence or self-enhancement: People’s perceptions of meaning and happiness in relation to the self., Journal of Experimental Psychology General, September 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/xge0001297.
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