Human beings have meaning needs. They crave the psychological experience of meaning. For artists, one of the places they regularly acquire that experience is through making art. But it is also the case that making art may not provide them with sufficient meaning.

Artists may well need more “meaning opportunities” than creating art can afford. They may also need relationships; they may need to be of service; they may need to stand up for a cause; they may need a successful career; and so on. It is unlikely that making art, even if you manage to do it regularly, even if you like what you produce, and as meaningful as that may feel, will provide enough meaning.

Many of our most productive, well-respected artists did not experience their life as meaningful enough. Putting all of their meaning eggs into one basket proved shortsighted. By not adding relating to their menu of meaning opportunities they regularly came up against loneliness, alienation, and a deep sense of life’s coldness. By not paying sufficient attention to their career and, as a result, by not having a career—by not realizing the extent to which “career” might be experienced as a meaning opportunity—they regularly lost that chance at meaning.

Create your own menu of meaning opportunities. By that I mean: think through what experiences and activities in the past have felt meaningful and look into your crystal ball and try to predict what experiences and activities might feel meaningful in the future—in addition to making art. Remember that meaning is a certain sort of psychological experience and as such you can influence it, cultivate it, and even create it. If you want more meaning in your life, it is on your shoulders to make it. Creating your own personal menu of meaning opportunities is a great first step.


If you’d like to learn more about meaning and life purpose, enroll in Dr. Maisel’s Life Purpose Boot Camp class that begins in July. For more information visit here:



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