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People of Purpose

Connecting people to their unique human experience through Purpose.

Jun 9, 2019

Dr. Joel Vos is a psychologist and philosopher. He does research, teaches and offers psychological therapy to help individuals live a meaningful and satisfying life even in life’s most challenging moments. He leads the professional doctorate in Existential Psychotherapy and Counseling at the London New School of Psychotherapy and Counseling. The research group that he chairs at the Metanoia Institute in London focuses at developing psychological interventions to help people live a meaningful life, particularly in challenging life circumstances such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and socioeconomic disenfranchisement.

Joel has conducted world-wide reviews of research on meaning, which he has summarized in his book ‘Meaning in Life: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Practitioners’. His reviews have, for instance, shown how people all over the world experience meaning, different types of meaning, cope with life’s limitations, and how they can be helped by professionals. His main conclusion, based on over 80 clinical trials, is that people can be effectively helped to live a meaningful and satisfying life, when practitioners systematically and explicitly address what they may experience as meaningful.

 Joel has over 80 scientific publications, and has given hundreds of lectures and workshops world-wide. During the British mental health awareness week in 2019 his book ‘Mental Health in Crisis’ -written together with Ron Roberts and James Davies- will be released, which describes that in our modern western countries we experience a large crisis where problems are often caused by socioeconomic circumstances which limit people from living a meaningful life, while the mental health care system seems to fail due to a focus on superficial interventions which do not address the complete and true problem for people. Joel’s next book, 'The Economics of Meaning in Life', will further explore how mental health problems are caused by the Capitalist Life Syndrome, which is the functionalist focus in our current economy on materialist, hedonist and self-oriented types of meanings.

 Joel is chair of the IMEC, International Meaning Conferences, in London, of which the next one will be held 12-14 July 2019, with an amazing line-up of speakers from all over the world, crossing disciplines such as psychology, psychotherapy, sociology, politics, economics, art and poetry. Joel is also director of Meaning Online, an online platform with resources on meaning and purpose. Joel is the organizer of the London charity, Punk4MentalHealth, which raises awareness for mental health via music, art, lectures and workshops for a broad audience. Since 2018 he has been working on developing online resources on meaning via his website, you can purchase his books via, and follow him on Facebook @

Listen as we talk about:

  •  The reason for all of the mental health issues in the world
  •  What the Capitalist Life Syndrome is
  •  How he defines the difference between 'having fun' and being fulfilled in life
  •  How his experience with tribes in the Amazon allows him to see just how disconnected the world really is
  • The four reasons he gives that could help our world's mental  state
  •  How we need to peel back the layers of our selves until we get to the real core of meaning
  • How the best way to live a meaningful life is to not be in our heads
  • That we fact that we already know how to live a meaningful life, and that meaning lies in our feelings
  • The affect of traveling upstream instead of going with the flow
  • How he recommends we stay in a flow state, instead of being thrown around in our work or relationships



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