Our Principles

As the Map of Meaning International Trust, we set ourselves the task of making the Map of Meaning available to you, and to the world. There are five principles that support the Map of Meaning being used easily, effectively and responsibly by individuals and practitioners. We ask you to carefully consider the principles below. 

1.  The Map of Meaning is research based.

The Map of Meaning is based on high quality peer-reviewed academic research. The intellectual source of the Map is established through the published research papers.  Please cite the source at all times. You can find these on our website under Resources.

We ask you to maintain the structure of the Map. We encourage people to choose their own words to describe the elements in order to make the Map more personalised. At the same time, practitioners need to maintain the essential framework of the Map. If you change any element of the Map you change its structure and then it is no longer research-based.

Because we want to make the Map of Meaning readily available we have made the validated questionnaire freely available in the research papers. To reciprocate, we ask that where you see opportunities for further research you consider involving us.

2.  Meaning is both constant and ever-changing

On the one hand the places in which people find meaning, such as unity with others, are universal and timeless. On the other hand, how much meaning a person experiences in each of the elements of the Map and from where that meaning is derived (e.g., from a team meeting or an interaction with a client) changes. Meaning is therefore found to be episodical. For you, as a practitioner this means you need to be flexible in your approach and learn to listen for meaning coming and going.

Meaning is also not contained to certain domains, such as work or our private lives. Sometimes solutions to finding more meaning in work lie in the private sphere and visa versa.

3.  The data that forms the foundation of the Map of Meaning was gained from ordinary human beings, like you and us.

This means working with the Map is a meeting of equals. Please stay present to this fact in your work with the Map.

In using this work, please stay present to the fact that all human beings yearn for meaningful lives and work, and that all human beings can articulate what gives meaning to their lives and work. This is not just the domain of professionals. There is also no evidence that managers or leaders know more about working and living meaningfully than anybody else in the organisation.

When the Map is used well, it is a humbling process. One is constantly met by the depth of insight people from all walks of life have into the purpose of their existence. They know what gives it meaning, and where and when meaning is lost.

We ask you to honour the intrinsic dignity of each human being with whom you work by inviting people to stand in their own strength.

4.  Meaning is not a technique, it is an embodied experience

Working with the Map is not a technique that we impose on others.

The Map is much more powerful when we use it from having experienced it ourselves. Working with the Map with others is effective to the extent that you understand how meaning works in your own life. Therefore, applying the Map to yourself on a regular basis increases your ability to share the Map effectively with others.

The Map of Meaning helps people uncover what is meaningful to them. It operates at all levels of human experience and works physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

5.  The Map is the product of people’s generosity

Generosity has been integral to the development of the Map of Meaning, to getting it into the world, and to our understanding of how the Map works. We ask you to honour this principle in your work with others and in your relationship with the Trust.


Marjolein Lips-Wiersma, Patricia Greenhough, Lani Morris. Founders of the Map of Meaning International Trust