Does your life have meaning

This column originally appeared in The Observer magazine/Guardian online

 Never let it be said that we don’t answer the big questions in this series. So does it?…

…To find out, rate the items below on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), then add up your score.


  1. I rarely go wrong when I follow my instincts
  2. I usually trust my hunches
  3. I can usually tell whether or not somebody is right
  4. My first impressions of people are usually pretty accurate
  5. It’s important to trust your feelings when making important decisions








If you scored 20 or more then, congratulations: your life has meaning.


Of course, things aren’t quite that simple. But a recent study conducted at the University of Missouri found that people who gave higher scores on a short faith-in-intuition questionnaire (similar to the one above) were also more likely to strongly agree with statements such as “my life has a clear sense of purpose”. And this purpose doesn’t have to come from religion: Whilst the study found that religious people were indeed more likely to feel that their lives had meaning, the relationship between following one’s gut and and attributing meaning to life held even for non-religious people. Presumably, for these people, whatever it is that gives their lives meaning – be it God, or something else – also acts as a kind of invisible hand, guiding their hunches and intuitions.

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