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Published on Feb 12, 2013
Something unusual and significant is happening in Toronto, quietly and under the radar.
Every other Sunday afternoon, people from all walks of life gather at my home for our regular Meaningful Living Meetup. On average, more than 30 people cram into my living room. This picture was taken last year, when the group was smaller. A Meetup Group Who participates?
Participants come from all ethnic backgrounds and different walks of life: graduate students, retirees, mental health professionals, entrepreneurs, accountants, engineers, and stay-at-home moms (who appreciate the babysitting provided). Interestingly, many of the participants have physical or mental health issues.
One case in point is an elderly lady who has only 30% of her lung capacity. Even with the help of a portable oxygen tank, she still struggles with every breath and has difficulty completing a sentence without pausing. She keeps coming because she says that learning about the meaning of life empowers her to go on in spite of pain.
Another example is a young lady suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies. Group support and the content of each lesson give her new grounds for hope.
About half of the members come from other countries, such as China, Mexico, Romania, Poland, and Russia. In spite of their diverse ethnic/cultural backgrounds, these immigrants face the same problems with language barriers and lack of employment opportunities.
We also have retirees who are seeking new meaning for their post-employment days. They are excited about making new connections.
In slightly over a year, our membership has grown to over 180. What accounts for this growth? Judging from the comments members have made, people come because topics on meaningful living resonate with them and because they enjoy exploring these topics with others. Here are a few comments: "It's so wonderful to meet people from all walks of life who share similar values. Following our heart and values is a narrow and lonely path at times. I also appreciate the warm and casual atmosphere of the meetings." "It feels like heaven on earth to be able to celebrate life together and help each other to grow." "How to live a good life? An age old question that always brings about thought provoking dialogues. A great cross-section of people from different walks of life will make this journey even more interesting." Paul Wong lecturing Importantly, participants learn about the latest research findings relevant to meaningful living. For each topic, I give a mini-lecture that covers the empirical and theoretical foundations. These are largely based on my two edited volumes, The Human Quest for Meaning. Some of these mini-lectures can be found on my YouTube channel, Personal Meaning.