We propose that evaluating a life as meaningful or significant is the outgrowth of a critical human motivation — the motivation to have others verify that what is going on in one's life, others' lives, and the world really matters and makes sense. A meaningful life is one that is judged to be "going in the right direction," with a current life trajectory that is moving toward worthwhile goals — a trajectory that reveals the underlying truth of that life. For these ends to be experienced as ends that really matter, they need to be verified by others as being the right ends, thereby making them objectively worthwhile. Thus, shared reality, which transforms the subjective to objective through fundamental epistemic and social motives (Hardin & Higgins, 1996), is essential for a meaningful life and a meaningful world. Importantly, our use of shared reality in meaning-making has both costs and benefits, including ideological conflicts on the one hand and moral altruism on the other. Nonetheless, it is an essential part of human psychology.
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