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Texas Well-being


Life Purpose

Life purpose, or meaning in life, is a core component of positive psychology and refers to the belief that one lives a meaningful existence. This belief is associated with higher life satisfaction (Chamberlain & Zika, 1988), happiness (Debats, van der Lunne, & Wezeman, 1993), and hope (Mascaro & Rosen, 2005). Having a sense of life purpose has multiple positive associations with coping, health, well-being and adaptive coping strategies (Thompson, Coker, Krause, & Henry, 2003). It’s also related to a lower incidence of psychological disorders (Owens, Steger, Whitesell, & Herrera, 2009). Helping students understand how classroom happenings are linked to their sense of purpose in life may help them maintain motivation, hope and engagement with the course.

  • Have students set goals for what they want to accomplish in the course.
  • Share how content relates to your own life and goals.
  • While teaching, explicitly connect content to students’ goals.
  • Set up times to talk informally with students about their goals and life plans.

Professor and students talking over lunch in the student lounge

The whole student