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Halcyon actively monitors change covering more than 150 key elements of life.

The 52:52:52 project, launching both on this site and on social media in early 2024 will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

A Mundane Comedy is Dominic Kelleher's new book, which will be published in early 2024. The introduction is available here and further extracts will appear on this site in the coming months.

What's Changing? - Meaning

Meaning

 

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony - William Henry Channing

 

Please see below selected recent meaning-related change.

 

See also:

 

November 2023

  • An article in the Financial Times highlighted research from European academics that suggested that smart, skilled employees are more likely to accept lower wages for work they think is meaningful. The research found that employees at environmentally friendly firms earned between 9 and 15% less than those doing the same job in oil companies, mining companies, or other less sustainable businesses. This disparity is consistent across sectors and has widened since 2001, becoming known as the ‘sustainability wage gap’.

 

February 2023

  • Big Think noted that the reductionist view of reality posits that the only phenomena that matter are fundamental particles and their interactions: we are nothing more than an animated pile of carbon atoms. However, science doesn’t really support this view. For instance, quantum physics has been telling us for a long time that information plays a central role in our understanding of the world. Information is inherently meaningful, which suggests that our Universe is built upon meaning.

 

June 2022

 

April 2022

  • Researchers and philosophers identify two types of psychological wellbeing, which can be summarised as the purposeful and the pleasurable. Previous research established that, on average, wealthy people experience happier, more meaningful lives. A more recent study asked a more nuanced question: does meaning predict happiness, regardless of wealth? The results suggested that meaning is less important to happiness for wealthy people. More importantly, meaning may be extra important for people without much money.

 

August 2021

 

August 2020

  • According to research, most people are not thrilled with their jobs. However, there are ways to find purpose in work and to reduce the negative impact that the daily grind may have  onmental health. "The evidence is that about 70 percent of people are not engaged in what they do all day long, and about 18 percent of people are repulsed," London Business School professor Dan Cable claimed, calling the current state of work unhappiness an epidemic. He and other thinkers considered what it means to find meaning in work, discussed the parts of the brain that fuel creativity, and shared strategies for reassessing people's relationship to their job.

 

May 2020

  • Animals do not seek meaning, as far as we can tell. The very concept of a meaningful life is incomprehensible to them. There is just life, and life consists of the things that need to be done and then things they just seem to like doing. Plants are the same. It is not always easy being a plant, but there is a lot of down time. Perhaps we should take much more of a cue from the flora and fauna that surround us. But one animal is quite different: us. The human. Many humans have a very strange idea that life should consist of more than just quacking and floating. It should be “meaningful,” whatever that is. But maybe this is wrong: maybe, once we have the basics, it is enough just to bask in the sunshine and potter around.

 

August 2019

 

July 2019

 

April 2019

  • There are few statistics on unfulfilling jobs. But in a YouGov poll, UK workers were asked “if their job made a meaningful contribution to the world”; 37% no and in a similar survey 40% of Dutch employees said their job had no reason to exist. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory postulates that more than half the jobs that exist are pointless and are in fact toxic to society. In the United States, 21 million people are estimated to be creating little or no economic value, according to a study by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini. 

 

March 2019

  • For the School of Life, a meaningful life is close to, but at points importantly different from, a happy life, as a meaningful life should draw upon, and exercise, a range of our higher capacities, for example, those bound up with tenderness, care, connection, self-understanding, sympathy, intelligence and creativity. A meaningful life aims not so much at day-to-day contentment as fulfilment and it is bound up with the long-term, as projects, relationships, interests and commitments will build up cumulatively. Meaningful activities leave something behind, even when the emotions that once propelled us into them have passed.

 

January 2019

 

December 2018

  • The School of Life noted that people nowadays often say that ‘life just has no meaning'. Two reasons are often cited for this. The first is because, as religious belief has declined, so has the meaning it once guaranteed. Modern science is the second cause of the current crisis of meaning. Scientists tell us that existence, which emerged from a random interplay of chemicals and gases, does have meaning, but of a rather bleak, relentless and narrow sort: - the meaning of life is survival and the propagation of one’s genetic material. It sounds very true and at the same time, distinctly futile and melancholy.

 

November 2018

 

October 2018

 

September 2018

 

August 2018

 

July 2018

 

June 2018

  • The search for meaning, unsurprisingly, remains an ambition, sometimes an obsession, for very many.  Inspiring thinkers have attempted, in the past* and more recently, to provide clarity on this topic, but the mystery and subjectivity remain.
  • AC Grayling talked a few years ago on Desert Island Discs about 'contributing to the conversation society has with itself about possibilities for good lives in good societies'.
  • In 1931, author and philosopher Will Durant wrote to a number of notable figures and asked, essentially, "What is the meaning of life?"  Durant received many replies, a selection of which were compiled in the book, "On the Meaning of Life".  Among the most thoughtful replies was one from H.L Mencken.
  • Holocaust survivor and psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl argued that the best way to encourage the young is to understand and help them satisfy their strongest desire - the search for meaning.
  • AC Grayling talked a few years ago on Desert Island Discs about 'contributing to the conversation society has with itself about possibilities for good lives in good societies'. This is exactly what Halcyon will be about too; encouraging frank conversations, between diverse individuals and groups, that help people develop their own "choice architecture" but that do not romanticise particular values.
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