Meanings and Values
Caption: People around a table looking up (image credit)
How can you collaborate with others to reflect on meanings and values from a reason-oriented perspective?We’re sitting around a table in our home with about eight guests and discussing the nature of truth and morality. Some believe that truth is generally black and white – either something is true or not. Others insist that truth has many gray areas. Folks disagree on whether it is always moral to tell the truth or whether there are higher morals than the truth.Participants gained a great deal from attending this event. On the feedback sheets passed around after the event, one participant wrote “I gained greater insight into how other people navigate difficult discussions regarding truth and values, when not all parties agree.” Another wrote that now s/he will “always question ‘my truth’” and will engage in “thinking more about what I hold true.” A third wrote that “building a sense of community is what I gained.” This discussion was part of a long-running group that my wife and I hosted at our place, entitled “Values and Meanings,” under the umbrella of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio. This meetup group provided an interfaith, reason-oriented venue for people to reflect in a community setting on life’s meaning and purpose, on their values and ethics, from an evidence-based perspective.Reflecting on purpose, meaning, values, and morals together with others in your community and social circle builds upon and combines all the previous strategies mentioned in earlier Intentional Insights blog posts as contributing to finding meaning and purpose in life. It provides:

• A venue for reflecting on deep life questions
• A means of building and cultivating social and community connections
• A way to help others, through assisting them in finding clearer answers to life’s big questions

Thus, participating in such discussion groups offers the trifecta of all elements that research shows combine to help people gain a sense of meaning and purpose in life – reflecting on meaning and purpose, acquiring stronger community and social bonds, and helping others. During these discussions, it is especially beneficial to write down how the helpful thoughts expressed by others informed and changed your thinking. Research shows that writing these down helps you remember and understand them better, while also minimizing distracting and unhelpful thoughts about unfulfilled plans.

Do you think you might benefit from engaging in more opportunities to reflect on purpose, meaning, values, and morals together with others in your community and social circle? If so, what specific and concrete steps can you take to achieve this outcome? Can you find a group in your locale that gets you what you want?

Well, what if you don’t happen to have such a group in your locale? Why not take the initiative to organize one? To help you out, Intentional Insights offers a “Values and Meanings” group starter package. This package includes two blog posts describing a typical “Values and Meanings” session, a facilitator’s guide, a feedback sheet, and participant handouts for eight events. Drop us a line at and we can connect you to current participants in “Values and Meanings” who can give you tips on setting up such a group in your own locale.

Look forward to hearing from you about your experience!

P.S. For additional resources on a science-based approach to finding meaning and purpose, check out this free workbook endorsed by Dr. Richard Carrier, Dr. Bob Bhaerman, and other scholars and secular activists; use this free science-based web app to evaluate your current sense of meaning and purpose; and also consider the wide variety of others resources on meaning and purpose available at Intentional Insights. –