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A Psychological Definition for “Successful Living”

“Successful living”. Those two words are so often (mis) used that for many the two combined have become a cynic’s oxymoron. “When has living successfully been a reality for the many?” I‘ve heard. And such is a fair question. That is why years back I turned to psychology to learn what the field had to say about successful living. For those who wish for a more detailed explanation than what this short blog can provide, I share my findings in my book, “The Path to a Meaningful Purpose.” My search was about finding proven and practical answers to why successful living eludes the many.

In the preface to “The Path to a Meaningful Purpose” I wrote the following:

“This first volume is particularly important to me because I feel responsible for how the content can influence behavior in others. It is my desire that readers of future books know that logoteleology can be trusted because it is well-researched, and it is a carefully thought-out method. My goal is to present practical solutions based on good science, not clever opinions and hearsay. I am not interested in theory for its own sake. Theories without solutions are meaningless. I am a pragmatist who cares to find and propose answers to real-world problems at every level.”

After many years of studying, including reading what seemed like an endless list of psychology books and journals by some very smart researchers (by the way, I am still reading and studying…..), I concluded that successful living is doing meaningful things. So it begs the question: What is meaningful? In short, the meaningful builds, improves and edifies. Meaningful actions benefit society and the environment. On the other hand, meaning-less behaviors and actions harm, deflate, demean, and subtract. So a life that builds, improves and edifies people and things is meaningful and leads to successful living. Meaningful Purpose Psychology encourages people to live successfully by doing meaningful things and by rejecting the meaningless.

Another interesting finding is that successful living is not necessarily about the accumulation of wealth. Psychologically speaking, a ‘successful life’ is a mental state, and it is not about balance sheets and income statements. Rich and poor, and anyone in between, can claim that they live a successful life when their life is filled with the meaningful. That, however, does not mean people should make a vow of poverty. Rather, what psychological findings indicate is that wealth should ensue as an outcome of working toward meaningful ends, and should not be pursued as the first and foremost life goal.

Influenced by Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy, Meaningful Purpose Psychology concurs that a successful life is determined by:

  1. the individual’s life meaning

  2. her or his ability to fulfill the meaning of her or his life

  3. fulfilling it in a meaningful way

Copyright 2013. Luis A. Marrero, Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose, 11 Belmont Street, Westfield, MA 01085. The author can also be reached through

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