Skip to content

Do You Have a Psychologically Rich Life?

by Beth on September 18th, 2023

In my book, Beyond Happy, I discuss two factors that are important for well-being: happiness and meaning. A couple of years ago, psychologists Oishi and Westgate proposed a third path to a good life: psychological richness.

A happy life brings you joy, security, comfort, and fun – you feel good and satisfied. A meaningful life is about feeling purposeful and significant, like you made a difference.

So, what is a psychologically rich life? It’s a life of curiosity, novelty, adventure, openness, and exploration. It’s best characterized by a variety of interesting and perspective-changing experiences. While a happy life and a meaningful life both contribute to well-being, they don’t capture the full range of human motivation because they can be repetitive and monotonous.

A psychologically rich life is full of interest and excitement. Individuals who lead a psychologically rich life do so via a range of experiences in which they have encountered a wide variety of perspectives and recognized life’s complexity. This leads to wisdom from having “a breadth and depth of knowledge along with humble and relativist mindsets.”

Your life can become more psychologically rich by reading books or having conversations that challenge your perspective, traveling to foreign places, or experiencing dramatic events. Engage in experiences that pique your interest, add more spontaneity and playfulness into your day, find new things to try and learn.

I spent the last few days in New York City. I always feel a sense of excitement walking through the streets of New York. I visited the Metropolitan Museum and went straight to see my favorite impressionist paintings. My curiosity then led me to wander through the modern/contemporary wing. I liked a lot of the paintings more than I had expected I would and realized maybe I need to update my opinion of modern art. Changing my perspective felt really refreshing.

The three aspects of a good life contribute to different life outcomes. A happy life leads to personal satisfaction, a meaningful life to societal contribution, and psychological richness to wisdom. A person who led a happy life might say, “I had fun!” A person who led a meaningful life might say, “I made a difference!” A person who led a psychologically rich life might say, “What a journey!”

What will you do to add psychological richness to your life?

From → Meaning, Well-being

Comments are closed.