Looking at people’s stress and anguish, the conflict between societies and how the environment gets maltreated, it seems that the human ability of mentally embracing, being aware of a global collective as a species did not keep pace with the globalization of the world. Is there a lack of a kind of mentality (respectively, awareness) in the sense of how populations connect themselves to a broader context like all humanity?
Transcending the narrow world of the ego
It appears challenging to bridge between individual and collective levels of reasoning. However, the feeling of interconnectedness is essential in contributing to health and well-being. Indeed, research findings suggest that psychological well-being is dependent upon one’s connection to a broader, even widely anonymous social scope that comes with a sense of meaning in life. Carl Jung spoke about different parts of the self that transcend the ‘ego’ self and that these need to be integrated to complete a harmonious inner self. The power of imagination can overcome an inflexible ego-centered mind. Imagination is also required to imagine future events, which constitutes (besides recalling matters of the past) a part of the ability to mentally ‘travel in time’. If people don’t imagine the future, their sense of self, and the perceived agency diminishes.
The social and temporal dimensions of awareness
Moreover, it is a person’s relation to the social world and time that can determine his or her meaning-making. In other words, it is a core construct of beliefs in these dimensions that forms a so-called ‘worldview’. ‘Sensemaking on a worldview level’ and ‘mental schemas’ are appropriate related terms at the cognitive level to determine what one is aware of. Hence, awareness seems to be linked to such mental schemas as they help to understand how people self-reflect on their socio-temporal worldviews.
Reflecting on one’s worldview
Worldviews are arrangements of beliefs used to create meaning of one’s experience of reality. From a cognitive perspective, worldviews involve ‘thinking systems’ including intricate patterns of thoughts and beliefs that integrate as an interactive whole. Beliefs are mental constellations that stand for relationships between categories, which determine how one experiences (i.e., is aware of) the world. For example, social worldview schemas would represent an individual’s beliefs about the social world. To mentally build a worldview, the abilities to learn and imagine, all of which require reflection, are essential. And humans do reflect on the continuum of time, a mental process that involves thinking about the past, present, and future.
Meaning-making through awareness about one’s socio-temporal scope of thinking
Accordingly, what results from combining thinking about social relations and time, is a socio-temporal matrix (see Figure 1) that can be used a framework to identify and visualize worldviews, and that can facilitate the exploration of psychological effects related to a person’s meaning-making and well-being based on their socio-temporal scope of awareness.
Socio-temporal worldview schemas
The nine fields of the matrix can be used to inquire about socio-temporal mental schemas, which means the scope and configuration of a person’s awareness. An individual’s worldview schema is expected to consist of a specific set of matrix fields, depending on whether one’s belief system emphasizes certain socio-temporal mental states over others. For example, one may emphasize other-related extra-past (e.g., socio-cultural upbringing), behave in an inter-present, rather relationship-dominated way, while focusing, however, on a self-oriented intra-future. Such a socio-temporal mental worldview schema might link to specific meanings as, for example, a more independent (i.e., denoted by the intra-past instead of an inter- or extra-past) and other-oriented (i.e., depicted as the extra-future rather than an inter- or intra-future) cognitive socio-temporal worldview preference.
A tool for self-reflection
In that sense, the socio-temporal matrix provides for a tool, respectively a mental map to support the navigation of socio-temporal worldviews, which, again, represents the scope and configuration of one’s awareness. The matrix has proven to be useful for self-reflection and fostering awareness about oneself and others.
Pleasures are shortcuts for joy, meaning does trump happiness, and everything starts with being your true self as if there were no expectations and boundaries to you. Don’t take the lift and complain about bad fitness; climb one mountain after the other. Unlearn the stories of deficiencies you told yourself. Overcome the illusion of being able to possess or be possessed by any worldly thing or person, and thereby take the chance to choose change toward a more awareness-intelligent humanness.
(Excerpt from Awareness Intelligence, M. Sager. 2019)
In 2016, Jim Haber published the ground-breaking DNA research ‘The rule of three’ revealing that nature, respectively DNA when it repairs itself, is likely working in a tripartite structure. During all my research over the years, I’ve found that there is indeed universal power in the ‘rule of three.’ The source energy that is light, reflects in the three colors red, green, and blue from which all other colors are created. The science of Yoga names three sources of energy: the left, the right, and the center. The universe’s space consists of three dimensions. The three possible geometries of the universe can be flat, open, or closed, and result from less, equal, or greater than the average density of matter.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity proclaims that God is one god, but that God eternally exists as three external realities of the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Scientific research outlines a triadic unity of content, approach, and method. Holistic psychological models are biopsychosocial, and the three basic human needs are safety, connection, and satisfaction, which can be associated in that order to the intra-past, inter-present, and extra-future. The same is true for the three human self-motivators of authenticity, genuineness, and kindness, as well as for the three factors of subjective well-being that are joy, engagement, and meaning. Also, social sciences operate in threefold structures. For example, the triad of governance philosophy takes into account passion, people, and purpose; and the well-established leadership triad goes along knowledge, trust, and power. All these structures can be re-examined through the mapping to the three tenets of Awareness Intelligence. It seems that the structure of Awareness Intelligence had always been intuitively felt, although the decoding into the socio-temporal matrix had to wait until today.
According to Perennial Philosophy, all of the world’s religious traditions share a single (threefold), metaphysical truth from which all spiritual knowledge has derived. First, it is the continuous nature, which is reflected by the mental stretching in time to achieve awareness along with an infinite temporal scope. Second, it is a relational scope that comprises all of humanity, including all of its children. And third, that the purpose of a human life is to realize its divine nature, which matches Awareness Intelligence’s unfolding of fully developed, all-encompassing human cognitive structures.
We should not only think twice; we need to think thrice. To think about ‘me and others’ is not enough. To only reflect on the ‘now and then’ is sufficient neither. Thinking in couples instead of triples creates instabilities and disables wholesomeness. For illustration, only seeing and having faith, without following through is wasteful meaninglessness. Belief and action alone without seeing clearly what to believe and act upon, are naïve and irresponsible. To see and act upon without faith discourages trust.
When the pursuit of personal happiness is replaced by a genuine quest for meaning, when relationships are kept free from possessive judgments and expectations, and when peace is made with all humanity at all times, one is rewarded with true happiness, freedom, and peace of mind. This is the threefold benefits from the three tenets of Awareness Intelligence.
The meaning-making of and about the human psyche can be found in the tripartite structure of the socio-temporal matrix. There are three functional (as opposed to the six dysfunctional) coordinates of the matrix. As we have seen, the three different constellations from combining the dimensions of human relation and time belong together respective build on each other in a logical sequence. First, the intra-past as the combination of the intra-personal with the past in the sense of the source of intuition, is consciousness enabling minding. Second, the function of the inter-present, which derives from the inter-personal dimension crossed with present time, leads to awareness as the precondition for self-generated thought. And third, the intersection of the extra-personal with the future completes Awareness Intelligence in allowing it to be whole-human scope thinking both from a relational and temporal point of view.
There are three entry points to universal humantime: The mind-travel to before birth, the travel into parallel time, and the one to after death. They all represent different approaches respectively different combinations of dimensions of human relations and time. Like a room may have a door, a window, and a balcony, all three openings contribute to its well-lightening. All three Awareness Intelligence pointers together ultimately lead to the most profound possible enlightenment.
If you want to increase reliability in decision-making, you need three points of fixation respectively three sources for a three-way match. If for a point to be confirmed, you can’t find two other reference points, verification is weak. Think about a tripod and how its three legs need to interact simultaneously to provide a stable stand. Only by such a well-established awareness, bigger logical arcs of higher importance and sharper thought can be captured. Whether you want to achieve better thought-through results or to relax mental tension, think thrice the same way as you take three deep breaths as a physical exercise. Don’t judge too early, only cross the street of thought after having applied a ‘watch-listen-walk’ attitude in your decision-making. For your own and all others safety, watch the intra-past, listen to the inter-present, and walk the extra-future.
Instead of closed and linear dualistic conceptualizations, it will be understood that the world works rather in open and cyclical threefold structures. Human awareness will shift from conflict-triggered, reactive and fragile ‘either-or’ decisions that are, at best, balancing acts of competitive situations to a willful harmonization into sustainable healings and boundaryless cooperation.
Intelligence is like a triptych in art. Triptych art is made up of three panels that are intended to be displayed together. It is to be hoped that dualistic extremism evolves into harmonious lifestyles. We need monks who are socially engaging. We need physically fit intellectuals and intellectual sportspersons. We need leaders who serve on the ground of honest servant leadership style. And, we need real, fair competition. If people are allowed to pursue their unique talents, everybody becomes beyond measure and therefore not subject to shallow competition through unrelated or unfair means; extraneous power will not have to serve as compensation for perceived unworthiness, uninterestingness, and unattractiveness anymore.
Excerpts from Awareness Intelligence. Holy, Wholly, and Wholesomely Human (M. Sager, 2019)
This article is about the fascinating science of mental schemas and worldviews and how they relate to a person’s meaning and well-being. You can try out the related self-reflection tool, an exciting psycho-philosophical adventure, at www.mathias-sager.com.
Globalization has caused people to travel and migrate, buy products across borders, and inform themselves through global media. This strongly influences people’s identity and their psychological construction of the world (Reese, Rosenmann, & McGarty, 2015). It’s also a person’s internal system of meaning-making, respectively worldview that determines the scope and quality of capacities like the empathy one experiences (Nelems, 2017). Worldviews also help to interpret the world meaningfully, which allows us to better handle suffering (Yang, Liu, Sullivan, & Pan, 2016). Consequently, any investigation on how worldviews influence meaning/understanding seeks to derive insights that are beneficial for the individual well-being and the common good alike.
Worldviews are arrangements of beliefs used to create meaning of one’s experience of reality (Koltko-Rivera, 2004). From a cognitive perspective, worldviews involve ‘thinking systems’ including intricate patterns of thoughts and beliefs that integrate as an interactive whole (Davis, & Stroink, 2016). Beliefs are mental constellations that stand for relationships between categories, which determine how one experiences the world (Chen, Fok, Bond, & Matsumoto, 2006). For example, social worldview schemas would represent an individual’s beliefs about the social world (Sibley, & Duckitt, 2009). To mentally build a worldview, the abilities to learn and imagine, all of which require reflection, are essential (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). And humans do reflect on the continuum of time, a mental process that involves thinking about the past, present, and future (Vannucci, Peagatti, Chiorri, & Brugger, 2019).
The before-mentioned schematic concepts of beliefs can be called ‘meaning frameworks’ (Taves et al., 2018). Such a meaning framework is presented by Friedman (2018), who mentions two fundamental dimensions related to worldview, which are space and time. Neuroimaging research agrees that psychological orientation bases on the relationship between one’s behavior and the aspects of space, time, and people (Peer, Salomon, Goldberg, Blanke, & Arzy, 2015). Van Dijk and Withagen (2016) state that learning, specifically, meaning-making requires contextualization and a broadening of both the spatial and temporal scope of the individual.
Regarding the above-mentioned social dimension (Peer et al., 2015), the intra-personal, inter-personal, and extra-personal factors have been found to influence human perception, experience, and the capacity to manage life areas such as risks (Jayasuriya, Whittaker, Halim, & Matineau, 2012). Intra-personal means the thoughts and beliefs related to the individual herself (Jayasuriya et al., 2012). A definition of inter-personal comes from those thoughts and beliefs, which are related to personal interactions with others (Jayasuriya et al., 2012). Extra-personal can be defined as a social scope that goes beyond the direct interaction with others (Jayasuriya et al., 2012). Extra-personal beliefs are related to long-term interests such as social needs that surpass intra- and inter-personal benefits (Sternberg, Reznitskaya, & Jarvin, 2007). They can comprise social relationships beyond group memberships, i.e., being a member of the whole human species (Leary, Tipsord, & Tate, 2008).
Vannucci et al. (2019) mention that the temporal dimension of reflective thought is dependent on spatial context (i.e., including places close and far, the world, and the cosmos), but these researchers do not specifically focus the interpersonal, respectively social component of context. Similarly, Sullivan, Stewart, and Diefendorf (2015) see time and space as the critical variables for human cognition. Still, their model fails to consider the impact of the social dimension on perception too. To clarify the construction of worldviews, novel Socio-Temporal Mental Schema Analysis (STMSA) tool, on the other hand, is specifying ‘spatial’ as the ‘social’ attributes of the intra-, inter-, and extra-personal.
Nilsson (2014a) suggests that a person’s worldview, i.e., the schema through which the world is experienced, influences one’s well-being. Cloninger’s ‘unity of being’ represents a model of a coherent self-concept that consists of the self, others, and the world as a whole and has an impact on the degree of self-reliance, hope, the ability to cope, compassion, and cooperativeness (Garcia & Rosenberg, 2016). In that sense, the socio-temporal matrix (see Figure 1) researched, validated and developed as a framework to identify and visualize worldviews, can facilitate the exploration of similar possible psychological effects related to a person’s meaning-making and well-being through socio-temporal worldviews. Therefore, it is to understand individuals’ socio-temporal worldview ontology through introspective information gathering (Nilsson, 2014b).
Figure 1. The socio-temporal matrix of worldview schemas
The novel socio-temporal matrix is derived as described in the following and as visualized by Figure 1. On the x-axis of the model, there are three variables of the temporal dimension. More specifically, this horizontal axis partitions itself, in the order from left to right, into the ‘past,’ ‘present,’ and ‘future.’ The vertical y-axis of the matrix contains the three variables of the social dimension. Starting from the intersection with the horizontal axis, which represents time as explained, the first third of the vertical line (y-axis) shall be labeled ‘intra-’ that is short for ‘intra-personal. The next, middle part of the vertical axis becomes ‘inter-,‘which stands for the ‘inter-personal’ scope. The third and uppermost vertical section is the ‘extra-,‘ which signifies ‘extra-personal.’ Similar to a coordinate system, through these two tripartite grid lines, a matrix can be formed (see Figure 1). When using the vertical and horizontal axis’ labels in the same manner as the numerical coordinates of a map, or the letters and numbers of a chessboard, it is possible to identify and navigate the three times three – in total nine – fields of the matrix (see Figure 1).
The nine fields of the matrix will be used to inquire about socio-temporal mental schemas. An individual’s worldview schema is expected to consist of a specific set of matrix fields, depending on whether one’s belief system emphasizes certain socio-temporal mental states over others. For example, one may emphasize other-related extra-past (e.g., socio-cultural upbringing), behave in an inter-present, rather relationship-dominated way, while focusing, however, on a self-oriented intra-future. Such a socio-temporal mental worldview schema might link to specific meanings as, for example, a more independent (i.e., denoted by the intra-past instead of an inter- or extra-past) and other-oriented (i.e., depicted as the extra-future rather than an inter- or intra-future) cognitive socio-temporal worldview preference.
Socio-temporal schema constellations are expected to emerge from combinations of meaningful and often frequented social and temporal aspects within the socio-temporal matrix. The novel Socio-Temporal Mental Schemas Analysis (STMSA) tool investigates users’ worldviews based on their related schema constellations. The results can serve the users’ as a mental map to support the navigation of socio-temporal worldviews. As such, the matrix proves to be useful for self-reflection and fostering awareness about oneself and others.
Chen, S. X., Fok, H. K., Bond, M. H., & Matsumoto, D. (2006). Personality and beliefs about the world revisited: Expanding the nomological network of social axioms. Personality and Individual Differences, 41(2), 201–211
Davis, A. C., & Stroink, M. L. (2016). The Relationship between Systems Thinking and the New Ecological Paradigm. Systems Research & Behavioral Science, 33(4), 575–586.
Friedman, H. L. (2018). Transpersonal psychology as a heterodox approach to psychological science: Focus on the construct of self-expansiveness and its measure. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 6(1), 230–242.
Garcia, D., & Rosenberg, P. (2016). Out of Flatland: The Role of the Notion of a Worldview in the Science of Well-being.
Jayasuriya, R., Whittaker, M., Halim, G., & Matineau, T. (2012). Rural health workers and their work environment: the role of inter-personal factors on job satisfaction of nurses in rural Papua New Guinea. BMC Health Services Research, 12, 156.
Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind. Science, 330(6006), 932
Koltko-Rivera, M. E. (2004). The Psychology of Worldviews. Review of General Psychology, 8(1), 3–58.
Leary, M. R., Tipsord, J. M., & Tate, E. B. (2008). Allo-inclusive identity: Incorporating the social and natural worlds into one’s sense of self. In H. A.Wayment & J. J.Bauer (Eds.), Transcending self-interest: Psychological explorations of the quiet ego (pp. 137–147). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 10.
Nelems, R. J. (2017). What Is This Thing Called Empathy? At the Interface / Probing the Boundaries, (92), 17–38.
Nilsson, A. (2014a). A non-reductive science of personality, character, and well-being must take the person’s worldview into account. Frontiers in Psychology.
Nilsson, A. (2014b). Personality psychology as the integrative study of traits and worldviews. New Ideas in Psychology, 18.
Peer, M., Salomon, R., Goldberg, I., Blanke, O., & Arzy, S. (2015). Brain system for mental orientation in space, time, and person. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112, 11072–11077.
Reese, G., Rosenmann, A., & McGarty, C. (2015). Globalisation and global concern: Developing a social psychology of human responses to global challenges. European Journal Of Social Psychology, 45(7), 799-805.
Sibley, C., & Duckitt, J. (2009). Big-Five Personality, Social Worldviews, and Ideological Attitudes: Further Tests of a Dual Process Cognitive-Motivational Model. Journal of Social Psychology, 149(5), 545–561.
Sternberg, R. J., Reznitskaya, A., & Jarvin, L. (2007). Teaching for Wisdom: What Matters Is Not Just What Students Know, but How They Use It. London Review of Education, 5(2), 143–158.
Taves, A., Asprem, E., Ihm, E. (2018). Psychology, meaning making, and the study of worldviews: Beyond religion and non-religion. (2018). Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, (3), 207.
Van Dijk, L., & Withagen, R. (2016). Temporalizing agency: Moving beyond on- and offline cognition. Theory And Psychology, 26(1), 5-26.
Vannucci, M., Pelagatti, C., Chiorri, C., & Brugger, P. (2019). Space–time interaction: visuo-spatial processing affects the temporal focus of mind wandering. Psychological Research, (4), 698.
Yang, Q., Liu, S., Sullivan, D., & Pan, S. (2016). Interpreting suffering from illness: The role of culture and repressive suffering construal. Social Science & Medicine, 160, 67–74.
The meaning-making of and about the human psyche can be found in the tripartite structure of the socio-temporal matrix. There are three functional (as opposed to the six dysfunctional) coordinates of the matrix. As we have seen, the three different constellations from combining the dimensions of human relation and time belong together respective build on each other in a logical sequence.
First, the intra-past as the combination of the intra-personal with the past in the sense of the source of intuition, is consciousness enabling minding.
Second, the function of the inter-present, which derives from the inter-personal dimension crossed with present time, leads to awareness as the precondition for self-generated thought.
And third, the intersection of the extra-personal with the future completes Awareness Intelligence in allowing it to be whole-human scope thinking both from a relational and temporal point of view.
In 2016, Jim Haber published the ground-breaking DNA research ‘The rule of three’ revealing that nature, respectively DNA when it repairs itself, is likely working in a tripartite structure. During all my research over the years, I’ve found that there is indeed universal power in the ‘rule of three.’ The source energy that is light reflects in the three colors red, green, and blue from which all other colors are created. The science of Yoga names three sources of energy: the left, the right, and the center. The universe’s space consists of three dimensions. The three possible geometries of the universe can be flat, open, or closed, and result from less, equal, or greater than the average density of matter.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity proclaims that God is one god, but that God eternally exists as three external realities of the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Scientific research outlines a triadic unity of content, approach, and method. Holistic psychological models are biopsychosocial, and
The three basic human needs are safety, connection, and satisfaction, which can be associated in that order to the intra-past, inter-present, and extra-future.
The same is true for the three human self-motivators of authenticity, genuineness, and kindness, as well as for the three factors of subjective well-being that are joy, engagement, and meaning. Also, social sciences operate in threefold structures. For example, the triad of governance philosophy takes into account passion, people, and purpose; and the well-established leadership triad goes along knowledge, trust, and power. All these structures can be re-examined through the mapping to the three tenets of Awareness Intelligence. It seems that the structure of Awareness Intelligence had always been intuitively felt, although the decoding into the socio-temporal matrix had to wait until today.
According to Perennial Philosophy, all of the world’s religious traditions share a single, metaphysical truth from which all spiritual knowledge has derived.
First, it is the continuous nature, which is reflected by the mental stretching in time to achieve awareness along with an infinite temporal scope.
Second, it is a relational scope that comprises all of humanity, including all of its children.
And third, that the purpose of a human life is to realize its divine nature, which matches Awareness Intelligence’s unfolding of fully developed, all-encompassing human cognitive structures.
Although ‘meaning’ isn’t reducible to a state-like single factor , the meaning of a concept (i.e., work) is related to how an individual does experience the significance of a situation that causes related inferential intentions to behave in a certain way . While for many people the primary meaning of work lies in the earning of money for making a living, work provides also for values such as achievement, honor, and social relationships that determine how central the purpose of work is as compared to other life aspects like leisure, family, and community .
Economist and psychologist approach to work
The economist approach to work assumes a transactional exchange of time and effort for money. Non-financial job values have gotten limited attention by economists when examining work motivation and productivity. However, like for example, academics who have highest job security without the need to outperform, and who study beyond working hours without monetary incentives, are motivated by pure contribution to a subject, intellectual stimulation, and the satisfaction from a deliberate exchange of knowledge. Similarly, entrepreneurs enjoy the freedom of autonomous decision-making regardless of ‘pain’ put into it in the form of time and effort. Top talents have been found to prefer to work for social organizations rather than just for the best paying one .
Albeit the financialized political economy  ignores many aspects of work, such as its creative and interpersonal (social) value , the examples show that through psychological satisfaction, work can be a source of meaning beyond merely earning an income .
Cultural features of work meaning
Work creates culture, culture creates work
Culture as a guiding set of material, mental, and spiritual values that are based on a group’s experiences over time, creates meaning on how to behave and work  and, at the same time, its meaning itself is produced by work. Consequently, work should be considered a meaning-making construct of and within culture respectively as the producer and product of people’s mindset simultaneously . A culture, therefore, can be only as rich and meaningful as the work that produces it is itself.
In most Western cultures, there is today a less clear boundary between school and work life. In Japanese society though, there exists still a distinct point in time (usually beginning of April every year) that is marking the end of one’s student identity through entering the working world on full-time basis, which means to becoming a ‘shakaijin,’ i.e., a person of society/workforce . Companies use recruitment practices and regular personal assessment throughout an adult’s work life to socialize . Age-based reward and promotion systems also support this ongoing socialization process . More recently, the traditional path to adulthood and ‘companyism’ has become more diverse, and the increasing number of part-time workers and contractors is shaping a changing understanding of the transition to adulthood and work life, one that takes place rather through action than through the acquisition of the ‘shakaijin’ status .
Masculine breadwinner identity
Company respectively work-led socialization reinforces gender roles. The breadwinning role is a priority in masculine identity. After the earthquake in 2011, men’s concern in Fukushima was less related to health than to the loss of their economic situation . As in Japanese patriarchal culture, the father role is still primarily related to company job-related work, childcare duties are culturally assigned to solely to the female role (i.e., mother or grandmother), which provides a widespread potential for work-family conflicts. Shared family and work-related commitments, however, begin to be seen as essential to improve self-worthiness and a sense of meaningfulness in life . Men who don’t exhibit a regular full-time job are more likely to marry late. Also, males with non-standard jobs have the lowest chance of getting children, an effect that is prevalent in Japan, but not in the US, for example .
Given the importance of work as a provider of status, identity, and meaning, it is understandable that Japanese commit with a lot of grit to it . Over time, Japan’s values align more closely with global trends insofar as there is a great emphasis on the economic function of work as well . Will that be enough meaning to engage the next generations of employees as well? Research is showing that lack of meaning at work is reducing work volition and work-related well-being significantly .
Economy of dignity and respect
A further question is how much a collectivist society may be able to reduce the dependency on others and society overall because over-dependency on the meaning of work risks to hamper dignity. The individual capacity to understand and position oneself as a fully recognized societal participant is vital to the notion of dignity as sourced from within. It is to hope that companies and society, not only in Japan, help to create dignity by de-stigmatizing of traditional personhood markers such as employment type and gender roles . It’s maybe such a shift from status-focus to an action-focus orientation that also explains the changing meaning of ‘sonkei’ (Japanese for respect). Formal respect (e.g., towards age-based status) is increasingly recognized as a moral duty rather than an emotion built on genuine love and admiration .
Benefits from meaningful work
The benefit of employees perceiving their work as meaningful come as experiences of greater happiness, job satisfaction, team spirit, and commitment (; ), thus reducing turnover rates and long-term sickness absences. This is because of the positive emotional bondage to the workplace that is an end in itself; a characteristic also called intrinsic motivation . A greater sense of meaning in one’s work can be protective of burnout . Eudaimonia is a term describing the sort of well-being that comes from living an engaging, meaningful, and fulfilling life . Such a spirit at the workplace can be fostered by letting employees feel they contribute to something more significant in connection to a common connection and purpose .
Performance and physical health
Work meaning is also closely linked to better outcomes, such as increased income, quality of work, and job satisfaction . Finally, a sense of purpose and sense of socially embedded growth in and from work (i.e., eudaimonic, meaning-based well-being versus hedonic, pleasure-based job-satisfaction ) was found to be associated with positive health outcomes, for example, by the means of supporting one’s physical resistance against adversities like inflammation or viral infection . The Japanese type of stress-death, the so-called ‘karoushi’ (death from overwork) cannot be seen as a physiological phenomenon only. Rather death is caused by a vicious cycle of depressive feelings, and states of helplessness and unescapable despair combined with overwork .
Fostering meaning at work
A culture of mentorship and nostalgia
For a long time, job satisfaction research has been focused on an organizational perspective without sufficiently considering the role of the job on family, the standard of living, personal development, and on a worker’s larger worldview . It is crucial to understand better situational contexts in which meaning ensues. Researchers found that the highest levels of meaning arise during spiritual practices and work hours, especially when performing social job components such as talking to people. As a general pattern, meaning occurs most during states of increased awareness . An organizational listening climate may facilitate such an awareness , and acting as a self-reflective mentor might be a useful avenue of experiencing meaning at work . Indeed, studies among nursing practices from different countries (e.g., Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, and Korea) confirm that leaders and a culture of mentorship are important for fostering meaning of work for both mentors and the mentees . Also, the induction of nostalgia (i.e., remembering sentimental events from the past) can be used to meet employees longing for wistful affection to the past and may increase an employee’s perception of the meaningfulness of his/her organizational life and therefore the attachment to it .
The need for humanizing the economy
The hope that unfulfilling, unsatisfying, and even health and life-threatening mental stress at work will improve may be overshadowed by the continuing centrality of profit margins and efficiency in corporations. Neo-liberal development in Japan has shaken the traditions of secure long-term employment and a state responsible for citizens welfare. While the need for meaning at the workplace implies rather a humanization of the economy and society, capitalist marketization of everything is continuing. Corporate managers continue to exploit deregulated labor and capital and maintain insecurity and growing competition among workers. . While rhetoric is sometimes trying to convince otherwise, understandably in the light of how grim the reality reveals, capitalism’s ultimate sense is about capital rather than humanity. In case of conflict, business goals come before anything else. Regardless of how meaningful employees perceive their job, no CEO is considered unsuccessful when driving profits within legal constraints and without caring especially about humanistically meaningful jobs. It’s, therefore, as an example, a non-surprising and common observation that such managers only after their retirement turn to a more dedicated anthropological role of contributing to society.
Meaning determines moral and ethical intentions and behavior
It seems that people need to find answers from within because the treadmill of the pursuit of consumption, pleasure, and economic success from work won’t fulfill the potential of greater meaning at work in many cases, regardless of how comfortable or tough the circumstances. It is each and everyone’s responsibility to fill the void of meaning through their sacred awareness, philosophy, and artful approach to put it into practice. And it is critical that we help others to do so too. The meaning of work should be considered simultaneously from an individual, organizational, and societal perspective, considering its psychological function for everyone. Meaning is the basis on which intentions ensue and according actions follow . Consequently, claiming peaceful fulfillment in one’s work is an essential part of and prerequisite for moral and ethical behavior towards oneself and others alike.
 Leontiev, D. A. (2013). Personal meaning: A challenge for psychology. Journal Of Positive Psychology, 8(6), 459-470. doi:10.1080/17439760.2013.830767
 Liberman, S., & López Olmedo, R. (2017). Psychological Meaning of ‘Coauthorship’ among Scientists Using the Natural Semantic Networks Technique. Social Epistemology: A Journal Of Knowledge, Culture, And Policy, 31(2), 152-164.
 THE MEANING OF WORKING: JAPAN VS USA. (2011). Allied Academies International Conference: Proceedings of the Academy for Studies in International Business (ASIB), 11(1), 7-11.
 Cassar, L., & Meier, S. (2018). Nonmonetary Incentives and the Implications of Work as a Source of Meaning. Journal Of Economic Perspectives, 32(3), 215-238. doi:http://dx.doi.org.liverpool.idm.oclc.org/10.1257/jep.32.3.215
 Lapping, C., & Glynos, J. (2018). Psychical Contexts of Subjectivity and Performative Practices of Remuneration: Teaching Assistants’ Narratives of Work. Journal Of Education Policy, 33(1), 23-42.
 Gill, F. (2000). The meaning of work: Lessons from sociology, psychology, and political theory. JOURNAL OF SOCIOECONOMICS, (6). 725.
 Francis, V. F. (2018). Infusing Dispute Resolution Teaching and Training with Culture and Diversity. Ohio State Journal On Dispute Resolution, (Issue 2), 171.
 Bendassolli, P. F. (2016). Work and culture: Approaching cultural and work psychology. Culture & Psychology, 23(3), 372-390.
 Cook, H. M., & Shibamoto-Smith, J. S. (n.d). Japanese at work : politeness, power, and personae in Japanese workplace discourse. Cham : Palgrave Macmillan, .
 Cook, E. E. (2016). Adulthood as Action Changing Meanings of Adulthood for Male Part-Time Workers in Contemporary Japan. Asian Journal Of Social Science, 44(3), 317-337.
 Morioka, R. (2014). Gender difference in the health risk perception of radiation from Fukushima in Japan: The role of hegemonic masculinity. Social Science & Medicine, 107105-112. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.02.014
 Hamada, l. (2017). Men’s unpaid domestic work: A critique of (re)doing gender in contemporary Japan. In M. Tsai, W. Chen, M. Tsai, W. Chen (Eds.) , Family, work and wellbeing in Asia (pp. 177-191). New York, NY, US: Springer Science + Business Media. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-4313-0_9
 Piotrowski, M., Wolford, R., Kalleberg, A., & Bond, E. (2018). Non-standard work and fertility: a comparison of the US and Japan. Asian Population Studies, 14(2), 116-136.
 Suzuki, Y., Tamesue, D., Asahi, K., & Ishikawa, Y. (2015). Grit and Work Engagement: A Cross-Sectional Study. Plos ONE, 10(9), 1-11. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137501
 Karyn A., L., & Arne L., K. (1988). Age and the Meaning of Work in the United States and Japan. Social Forces, (2), 337. doi:10.2307/2579185
 Duffy, R. D., Autin, K. L., & Bott, E. M. (2015). Work Volition and Job Satisfaction: Examining the Role of Work Meaning and Person-Environment Fit. Career Development Quarterly, 63(2), 126-140.
 Pugh, A. J. (2012). The Social Meanings of Dignity at Work. Hedgehog Review, 14(3), 30-38.
 Muto, S. (2016). [The hierarchical semantic structure of respect-related emotions in modern Japanese people]. Shinrigaku Kenkyu: The Japanese Journal Of Psychology, 87(1), 95-101.
 Leunissen, J. M., Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., & Cohen, T. R. (2018). Organizational Nostalgia Lowers Turnover Intentions by Increasing Work Meaning: The Moderating Role of Burnout. Journal of occupational health psychology, (1). 44.
 Fourie, M., & Deacon, E. (2015). Meaning in work of secondary school teachers: A qualitative study. South African Journal Of Education, 35(3), 1-8.
 Clausen, T., Burr, H., & Borg, V. (2014). Does Affective Organizational Commitment and Experience of Meaning at Work Predict Long-Term Sickness Absence?. Journal Of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 56(2), 129-135. doi:10.1097/JOM.0000000000000078
 Tei, S., Becker, C., Sugihara, G., Kawada, R., Fujino, J., Sozu, T., & … Takahashi, H. (2015). Sense of meaning in work and risk of burnout among medical professionals. Psychiatry And Clinical Neurosciences, 69(2), 123-124. doi:10.1111/pcn.12217
 Cake, M. A., Bell, M. A., & Bickley, N. (2015). The Life of Meaning: A Model of the Positive Contributions to Well-Being from Veterinary Work. Journal Of Veterinary Medical Education, 42(3), 184-193.
 Kinjerski, V., & Skrypnek, B. J. (2008). Four Paths to Spirit at Work: Journeys of Personal Meaning, Fulfillment, Well-Being, and Transcendence through Work. Career Development Quarterly, 56(4), 319-329.
 THE PATTERNING OF WORK MEANINGS WHICH ARE COTERMINOUS WITH WORK OUTCOME LEVELS FOR INDIVIDUALS IN JAPAN, GERMANY AND THE USA. (n.d). APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY-AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEW-PSYCHOLOGIE APPLIQUEE-REVUE INTERNATIONALE, 39(1), 29-45.
 Rothausen, T. J., & Henderson, K. E. (2018). Meaning-based job-related well-being: Exploring a meaningful work conceptualization of job satisfaction. Journal Of Business And Psychology, doi:10.1007/s10869-018-9545-x
 Kitayama, S., Akutsu, S., Uchida, Y., & Cole, S. W. (2016). Work, meaning, and gene regulation: Findings from a Japanese information technology firm. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 72175-181. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.07.004
 Walter, T. (1993). Karoushi: Stress-Death and the Meaning of Work. Journal Of Business Ethics, (11), 869.
 Kucinskas, J., Wright, B. E., & Riepl, S. (2018). The Interplay Between Meaning and Sacred Awareness in Everyday Life: Evidence From a Daily Smartphone Study. International Journal For The Psychology Of Religion, 28(2), 71-88.
 Reed, K., Goolsby, J. R., & Johnston, M. K. (2016). Extracting Meaning and Relevance from Work: The Potential Connection Between the Listening Environment and Employee’s Organizational Identification and Commitment. International Journal Of Business Communication, 53(3), 326-342. doi:10.1177/2329488414525465
 Kennett, P., & Lomas, T. (2015). Making meaning through mentoring: Mentors finding fulfilment at work through self-determination and self-reflection. International Journal Of Evidence Based Coaching And Mentoring, (2), 29.
 Malloy, D. C., Fahey-McCarthy, E., Murakami, M., Lee, Y., Choi, E., Hirose, E., & Hadjistavropoulos, T. (2015). Finding Meaning in the Work of Nursing: An International Study. Online Journal Of Issues In Nursing, 20(3), 7.
 Gagne, N. O. (2018). “Correcting Capitalism”: Changing Metrics and Meanings of Work among Japanese Employees. Journal Of Contemporary Asia, 48(1), 67-87. doi:10.1080/00472336.2017.1381984
(1) Distinct Co-operative Governance Challenges, (2) Distributed Leadership (DL), Self-awareness, Servant Leadership, and Safe Learning Spaces, (3) Empowerment for Service, Democracy, and Value-based Management, (4) Accountability for Strategic Leadership Processes: “Leading is a function, not a status.”
Distinct Co-operative Governance Challenges
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and Co-operatives that are run according to cooperative principles, face distinct challenges compared to governments or for-profit organizations. About 90 percent of contemporary leadership research is not directly relevant for the NGO context. . Furthermore, the available approaches to co-operative leadership need to be tailored according to organizational structure and maturity, economic sector, and membership size .
In a time of mystification and celebration of top-down leadership , capitalist shareholder dominance, and the absence of teaching foundations of cooperative democratic principles in schools, NGOs and Co-ops nevertheless continue to prioritize cooperation, especially by democratic and participatory principles that foster the inclusive membership’s well-being beyond pure business goals (Pinto, 2011). The cooperative governance model developed over decades by the CDS Consulting Co-op  has proven to provide leadership guidance to meet these unique needs by structuring governance elements into the four pillars of (1) teaming, (2) accountable empowerment, (3) democracy, and (4) strategic leadership. The following selected possible leadership program aspects are recommended to address the governance challenges of early-stage, still small cooperative organizations with a diverse and growing volunteering membership base.
Distributed Leadership (DL), Self-awareness, Servant Leadership, and Safe Learning Spaces
Protagonist leaders not sharing appropriately information are roadblocks to the active participation of co-leaders (e.g., other board members) and other members as everyone is supposed to participate in the democratic process . Mutually owned solution development involving all stakeholders (i.e., diverse member categories and other stakeholders in a multi-stakeholder cooperative) cultivate creativity . The risk of stakeholders pursuing their individual career goals at the cost of enhanced social networks and shared knowledge has to be prevented . Cooperative enterprises require concerted collective action . Such a collective capacity  is necessary to sustainably pool resources and know-how and can be addressed by the distributed leadership (DL) paradigm . Co-ops may foresee to offer leadership education that is addressing the dimensions of DL, which are “bounded empowerment, developing leadership, shared decision and collective engagement” (, p. 693).
A higher self-awareness may be needed for individuals to make sense of the broader cooperative perspective . DL suggests a culture of intensified inquiry among individuals  that can be positively influenced by increased self-efficacy, job satisfaction, and creative behavior among the members. A co-op can consider administering the validated DL instrument as the basis for its leadership development . Especially at early stages of forming an organization, group coaching as proposed by Fusco, O’Riordan, and Palmer (2015)  to develop authentic self-leadership within the team can be an appropriate activity as well. Servant leadership characteristics showed global validity and could inform the coaching approach and the creation of safe learning spaces for experimentation , which can be of high value especially in multi-cultural and human-oriented communities .
Empowerment for Service, Democracy, and Value-based Management
It was a misbelief that paid Board members would remain solidary to volunteer work . Rather, a study with students found that independent commitment to service provides for meaningful learning experiences and collaborative capacity building . Democracy offers a meaningful collective leadership approach  that can enhance innovative behavior and commitment among the members who have the possibility for representation in the governance of the organization .
The members need to be offered the potential for own socio-economic success as a result from collective operation , best based on a stakeholder analysis allowing for alignment of different members’ incentives . Engagement comes from understanding the purpose, vision, and values of the organization . Indeed, value-based management helps to create a shared sense of belonging to all stakeholders , which is vital team-building success. More specifically, a formal value statement can help keeping up values required for shared leadership development. A clear positioning against external competition might eliminate internal competition , which can be achieved by training . Another proposition is journaling to analyze how members experience their service contributions, a measure that has been able to confirmed the joy of service .
Accountability for Strategic Leadership Processes: “Leading is a function, not a status.”
Every minute of volunteering should be appreciated, and different levels of engagement between and within members over time accepted. Therefore, rather than defining and assigning roles and responsibilities to which it could be challenging to adhere to, accountability should be promoted. That way leaders can freely emerge without conflicts with non-matching role descriptions . As Cannell (2018)  puts it aptly, “leading is a function, not a status.” Any, and especially also young members should be encouraged to self-nominate for leadership and management roles . Technology can support strategy processes, planning, budgeting, member and associate management, as well as communication and media . The Social Change Model of Leadership offers a framework on which leadership development programs could be built on to facilitate value-based collaborative group processes for social change  and the encouragement of new leaders .
 Dragoș – Cătălin, A. (2013). Non-Governmental Organization Leadership And Development. A Review Of The Literature. Manager, Vol 17, Iss 1, Pp 145-161 (2013), (1), 145.
 Whittle, K. (2018). Who’s afraid of leadership? Key lessons for co-op leaders. Retrieved from https://www.thenews.coop/125400/topic/business/whos-afraid-leadership-key-lessons-co-op-leaders/
 Bennis, W. (1999). The End of Leadership: Exemplary Leadership Is Impossible Without Full Inclusion, Initiatives, and Cooperation of Followers. Organizational Dynamics, 28(1), 71-79.
 Pinto (2011). Leadership, capacity building and governability in cooperatives. Swedish Cooperative Centre. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/social/meetings/egm11/documents/Costa%20Pinto-Leadership,%20capacity%20building.pdf
 Dooley, J., & Shellog, K. (2016). Social change model of leadership development: A 20-year legacy and future considerations. Campus Activities Programming, 49(5), 20-25.
 Smolović Jones, S. )., Smolović Jones, O. )., Winchester, N. )., & Grint, K. ). (2016). Putting the discourse to work: On outlining a praxis of democratic leadership development. Management Learning, 47(4), 424-442. doi:10.1177/1350507616631926
 Rustin, M., & Armstrong, D. (2012). What happened to democratic leadership?. Soundings (13626620), (50), 59-71.
 Kuria, N. C. (2012). Harnessing the co-operative advantage to build a better world. United Nations Expert Group Meeting and Forum. Retrieved from https://social.un.org/coopsyear/documents/KuriaCooperativeLeadershipandGovernanceAddisAbaba.pdf
 Wilson, N. A., Ranawat, A., Nunley, R., & Bozic, K. J. (2009). Executive summary: aligning stakeholder incentives in orthopaedics. Clinical Orthopaedics And Related Research, 467(10), 2521-2524. doi:10.1007/s11999-009-0909-4
 Smith, C. (2015). Exemplary leadership: How style and culture predict organizational outcomes. Nursing Management, 46(3), 47-51. doi:10.1097/01.NUMA.0000456659.17651.c0
 Current state of research into co-operative management. Context, and future vision (2009). University of Leicester. Retrieved from www.pellervo.fi/pp/110esitykset/current_state_davis.ppt
 Maner, J. K., & Mead, N. L. (2010). The essential tension between leadership and power: When leaders sacrifice group goals for the sake of self-interest. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(3), 482-497.
 Tomlinson, C. A. (2017). Shining a Light on Leadership. Educational Leadership, 74(8), 91-92.
 Buschlen, E. L., & Reusch, J. (2016). The Assessment of Service Through the Lens of Social Change Leadership: A Phenomenological Approach. Journal Of College And Character, 17(2), 82.
 Cannell, B. (2018). Co-operative leadership: How should it work in practice? Retrieved from https://www.thenews.coop/125421/topic/business/co-operative-leadership-work-practice/
 Espedal, B., Gooderham, P. N., & Stensaker, I. G. (2013). Developing Organizational Social Capital or Prima Donnas in MNEs? The Role of Global Leadership Development Programs. Human Resource Management, 52(4), 607-625. doi:10.1002/hrm.21544
 Di Ruggiero, E., Kishchuk, N., Viehbeck, S., Edwards, N., Robinson, K., Riley, B., & Fowler, H. S. (2017). Alliance members’ roles in collective field-building: an assessment of leadership and championship within the Population Health Intervention Research Initiative for Canada. Health Research Policy & Systems, 151-11. doi:10.1186/s12961-017-0265-x
 Hristov, D. (2017). Distributed leadership : lessons from destination management organisations.
 Hairon, S., & Goh, J. P. (2015). Pursuing the Elusive Construct of Distributed Leadership: Is the Search Over?. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 43(5), 693-718.
 Creating a learning environment for transformation: A case study of a course in sustainability leadership. (2013). Leading Transformative Higher Education Olomouc: Palacký University.
 Sloan, T. (2013). Distributed Leadership and Organizational Change: Implementation of a Teaching Performance Measure. New Educator, 9(1), 29-53.
 Jønsson, T., Unterrainer, C., Jeppesen, H., & Jain, A. K. (2016). Measuring distributed leadership agency in a hospital context. Journal Of Health Organization & Management, 30(6), 908-926. doi:10.1108/JHOM-05-2015-0068
 Fusco, T., O’Riordan, S., & Palmer, S. (2015). Authentic Leaders are… Conscious, Competent, Confident, and Congruent: A Grounded Theory of Group Coaching and Authentic Leadership Development. International Coaching Psychology Review, 10(2), 131-148.
 Hirschy, M. J., Gomez, D., Patterson, K., & Winston, B. E. (2014). SERVANT LEADERSHIP, HUMANE ORIENTATION, AND CONFUCIAN DOCTRINE OF JEN. Academy Of Strategic Management Journal, 13(1), 97-111.
 Sinclair, I., & Matlala, M. (2011). The use of technology and leadership in enhancing strategic cooperative policing within the SADC region. International Journal Of African Renaissance Studies, 6(1), 47. doi:10.1080/18186874.2011.592391
 Iachini, A. L., Cross, T. P., & Freedman, D. A. (2015). Leadership in Social Work Education and the Social Change Model of Leadership. Social Work Education, 34(6), 650-665. doi:10.1080/02615479.2015.1025738
 French, A. (2017). Toward a New Conceptual Model: Integrating the Social Change Model of Leadership Development and Tinto’s Model of Student Persistence. Journal Of Leadership Education, 16(3), 97-117.
 Broussine, M., & Miller, C. (2005). Leadership, Ethical Dilemmas and ‘Good’ Authority in Public Service Partnership Working. Business Ethics: A European Review, 14(4), 379-391.