How to Live a Meaningful Life

Question: How do you lead a meaningful life?Dacher Keltner:    I’ve studied these emotions that I write about, and really the focus of my lab and this book, Born To Be Good [the sub-title of this book is, The Science of a Meaningful Life], emotions like compassion and reverence and laughter.  We so under-appreciate play and silliness and love and gratitude and modesty. 

What became really apparent to me, as I learn to see these emotions in other people scientifically, and then very interestingly, took that knowledge and engaged in an act of self-reflection is that those emotions tell me when I’m leading a meaningful life, when I feel grateful, or when I feel reverential, or respectful towards somebody, or compassionate; and that I feel how they hum in my nervous system and feel all the chemical effects of them, which is you feel a sense of a greater purpose and deep well-being. 

And so for me, those emotions are the key. And it’s interesting when people study, in psychological science, really older people, right, who are always important to think about as they near death, there’s this idea of generativity [sic] that becomes the central theme in an old person’s life. And it really is founded on feelings of appreciating what people give them and a sense of kindness and gratitude. 

So, those to me are the pathways to the good life.

Recorded on: Jan 30, 2009.

Dacher Keltner on how to sync your emotions.

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

New study finds the egg may actually 'choose' the Sperm

Here's the first evidence to challenge the "fastest sperm" narrative.

popular
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less