Nicolae Tanase: Dr. Yapko, what is the meaning of life?
Michael Yapko: Most people know of the Rorschach Ink Blot test, the psychological test in which someone looks at a series of ink blots and describes what they “see” in them. It’s called a “projective test” because it features a series of ambiguous images; all anyone can do to find meaning is project meaning onto ink blots that have no innate or actual meaning. The ink blots mean whatever you think they mean.
My perspective is that life is an experiential Rorschach. The meaning of life is the meaning you give it: Some say, “life is an adventure to be lived to the fullest with love and compassion in your heart,” while others say, “life is a bitch and then you die.”
As a clinical psychologist, I am acutely aware that not all belief systems are of equal value in terms of the consequences they generate for mental and physical health and meaningful social connection. Life isn’t about being “right” in any absolute sense when it comes to values or viewpoints. Rather, I think it’s about evolving the skills necessary to be effective in living well, both discovering and creating a Self that enhances your life and the lives of others.
~Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist. He is internationally recognized for his work in clinical applications of hypnosis, treating depression, and developing strategic, outcome-focused psychotherapies.
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