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PURPOSE IN LIFE

 

Symbolic meaning of ‘Purpose in Life’: Symbolizes personally significant goals and aspirations, and a sense of directedness

Products can also have a symbolic meaning of purpose in life, because they are tangible representations of important values that make life worthwhile. This symbolic meaning can occur because the possession is a tangible representation of, for example, a person’s spirituality, a major life event or achievements, or because it embodies future aspirations and personally meaningful goals. Such material possessions provide a contribution to subjective well-being because they support a sense of directedness and purpose.

An example of a material possession with the symbolic meaning of purpose in life is a figurine of baby Jesus, representing a religious belief, but also positive aspirations associated with it such as kindness, charity, and a sense of being part of something greater than the self.

 

 

 

To help designers use the six happiness-related symbolic meanings, we developed 16 specific design directions. These are the ones most related to purpose in life:

Support meaningful affiliations, by facilitating the practice of group/ community activities.

Encourage positive change, by providing an external trigger that suggests beneficial activities or behaviours.

Think about…
…which activities or behaviours can benefit your user, and contribute to a purposeful life?

Provide a sense of control, by allowing the user to manage personally significant goals, or to eliminate obstacles in their fulfilment.

Think about…
…what are personally significant goals that give purpose to your user?
…what are possible obstacles in their fulfilment?

Keep track of progress, by providing visual feedback on progress towards personally significant goals.

Think about…
…what are personally significant goals that give purpose to your user?
…how can progress towards their fulfilment be measured?

In addition, designers and design researchers helped us select some product examples to illustrate this symbolic meaning:

The Blank Wall Clock by Alessi is a blank surface to write or draw on. It relates to the symbolic meaning of purpose in life because it allow the user to allocate parts of the day according to personal goals, and have a visual reminder (and trigger) of those goals.

 

The Kitchen Safe by David Krippendorf and Ryan Tseng is a time-lock container that cannot be opened until the timer reaches zero. It relates to the symbolic meaning of purpose in life because it provides the user with control over certain aspects of life that are connected to personally significant goals (for example, reducing a gaming addiction, or controlling food intake to have a healthier body).

999Bottles by Artefact is a stainless steel bottle that includes three numbered dials around its base to track the number of plastic bottles saved. It relates to the symbolic meaning of purpose in life because it provides the user with visual feedback on progress, towards personally significant goals (for example, to be more environmentally friendly).

 

 













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