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Knowledge, power, and goodness: an analysis of the attributes of a meaningful life

On 20 February 2008, I wrote on What is the secret to a meaningful life? I was, and still is, enamoured with Seligman’s (2002) idea of what comprises meaning in our lives. Meaning is created when there is furtherance in knowledge, power and goodness.

I believe there is an abundance of knowledge and power, and ever increasing goodness as well. The crux lies in using our signature strengths, and in particular, how well we use our signature strengths. The flow diagram below details the stages of signature strengths.

1. Self-awareness of signature strengths concept

2. Identification of signature strengths

3. Application of signature strengths

4. Mastery of signature strengths

As seen in the flow diagram above, we can contribute to knowledge, power and goodness at any stage.  The only difference is that with using and mastering our signature strengths, compared with just being aware of and knowing our signature strengths, we can lead increasingly meaningful lives with the least effort expended and most happiness guaranteed.

What is the meaningful life in aid of?  The mindless augmenting and pursuit of knowledge?  The bottomless thirst for power?  The pious search and protests for goodness?

In these times of excess, the awareness for excellence is greater.  What is excellence?  Excellence is quality.  Quality knowledge and quality power.  This leads to another question.  What is quality?  Quality is governed by choice and goodness.  We have the choice to choose our knowledge and our power, and this choice is influenced by our definition of goodness.

In summary, a meaningful life contributes to the proliferation of knowledge, power and goodness.  A need for excellence, in terms of quality, is required to select the appropriate knowledge and power to lead a meaningful life spearheaded by what we call goodness.


Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Simon & Schuster.

1 comment

1 Words of wisdom: the juxtaposition of speaking and listening — … Smile! Are you shining yet? { 07.01.08 at 11:51 }

[…] is key to building and maintaining relationships, which influences the quality in living the meaningful life. Let us search for quality knowledge of our counterparts, let’s listen, and listen […]

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