King on Meaning in Life

BY RACHEL SCHOOL

 

As part of the Killeen Chair Lecture series, Dr. Laura King addressed St. Norbert College students and community on Thursday, March 27. The lecture, entitled “Meaning in Life, Happiness, and the Pretty Good Life,” took place in Fort Howard Theater, located in the Bemis International Center.

King is a professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She is the author of two textbooks and over 100 articles, which have been published in leading psychological journals. King has received research grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.

In her lecture, King talked about the modern search for meaning and happiness.

“Meaning is essential for human beings, much in the same way as air and water. We require meaning to survive,” said King.

Instead of “finding meaning,” King suggested a different verb be used instead. King thinks we should speak of meaning as “happening.” For King, meaning is not something that one can find but something that is happening all the time.

Meaning can be found in the small things of daily life. There are signs of meaning everywhere, and, according to King, one must be willing to look for this meaning. Meaning also happens to people, even if they do not want it to.

Finally, life has two guarantees: joy and sorrow. For King, the goal in life is “not to be happy all of the time,” but instead to “be present” for both the joy and sorrow of life.

The final Killeen Chair Lecture will be on Tuesday, April 1, at 7:00 p.m. in the Fort Howard Theater. It will feature George Yancy, a professor of Philosophy at Dusquesne University.

The lecture is entitled “Fear of Black Bodies and the Problem of Whiteness.” Yancy’s lecture will be presented in collaboration with the Cassandra Voss Center’s “year of bell hooks” programming.

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