Wonderful Life: Exploring Wonder in Meaningful Moments

Jacky van de Goor*, Anneke M. Sools, Gerben J. Westerhof, Ernst T. Bohlmeijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
185 Downloads (Pure)


In this article, we bring the study of meaning together with the emerging field of study focusing on the emotions of wonder: wonder, enchantment, awe, and being moved. It is in meaningful moments that these two meet, and in our empirical study, we used the emotions of wonder as a lens to investigate meaningful moments. We applied a novel intervention, the Wonderful Life question, to elicit narratives of meaningful moments from 100 participants varying in age, profession, and social status. Using characteristics of wonder retrieved from the wonder literature to qualitatively analyze these narratives, we identified five types of meaningful moments: opening up to life, facing the precarity of life, celebrations, countering the negative, and familiar routines. The study deepens insight in the way meaning is discovered in different types of meaningful moments. It supports the premise that there is potential meaning in any moment in life, and the mind-set of wonder enabling the discovery of meaning. Finally, it pleads for the use of the Wonderful Life question as a means to elicit a wide spectrum of meaningful moments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-167
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of humanistic psychology
Issue number2
Early online dateMar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Awe
  • Being moved
  • Enchantment
  • Meaning
  • Meaningful moments
  • Narrative
  • The extraordinary
  • Wonder


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