Category Archives: Meaning

The H-word: Happiness

There’s a new post by Meg about happiness and mental health over on the  Rewriting-the-Rules blog.

Existential youtube

For light relief. A wonderful youtube video about feline existence:


And one about the existence of a croissant:


And existential Star Wars:

Huckabees at the Northern Existential Group

On 22nd March 2012 the Northern Existential Group discussed the existential film ‘I ♥ Huckabees’.


IMDB details

Whilst we agreed that the film was perhaps a little too self-conscious or harsh in places, we liked the way that existential themes were explored. Through the film the characters move from the notion that everything is interconnected and that this makes life meaningful, to the idea that everything is meaningless and that life is inherently painful, to the possibility that it is through this very pain and meaninglessness that we are connected to one another.

There is a further discussion of the existential theme in the movie here. We would be very interested in hearing from people about other movies that explore existential themes that we might watch for future sessions. There is a list here and the book,  Existentialism for Dummies, lists:
Ikiru (1952)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Apocolypse Now (1979)
Blade Runner (1982)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Pleasantville (1998)
Fight Club (1999)
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Superbad (2007)

Happiness at the Northern Existential Group

10/2/12 by Meg Barker

10th February 2012 was the fourth meeting of the Northern Existential Group (NEG). This time we focused our discussions on Bo Jacobsen‘s paper What is happiness? The concept of happiness in existential psychology and therapy, which was published in the journal Existential Analysis in 2007. Here I will present a brief overview of the paper and then summarise our discussions about the nature of happiness and what an existential perspective might have to offer on the subject. We were also very lucky to receive a response to this summary from Bo Jacobsen himself, which is included at the end of this post.

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Tragic Optimism in the Northern Existential Discussion Group

7th September 2011 saw the second meeting of the Northern Existential Discussion Group. This month our reading was a short essay by the existential psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, called The Case for Tragic Optimism. He wrote this in 1984 as a postscript to his classic book about his experiences of the holocaustMan’s Search for Meaning. The essay makes the case for finding meaning in life despite the inevitable tragedies which we will experience. Frankl is, perhaps, one of the most accessible existentialist writers to read, and the essay is very engaging and thought-provoking indeed.

Here I’ll say a bit more about the author, summarise his argument, and then give a flavour of our discussions: what we found inspiring about the essay, and where we felt it was limited or problematic.

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