From what might have been to what must have been: counterfactual thinking creates meaning.

@article{Kray2010FromWM,
  title={From what might have been to what must have been: counterfactual thinking creates meaning.},
  author={Laura J. Kray and Linda G. George and Katie A. Liljenquist and Adam D. Galinsky and Philip E. Tetlock and Neal J. Roese},
  journal={Journal of personality and social psychology},
  year={2010},
  volume={98 1},
  pages={
          106-18
        }
}
Four experiments explored whether 2 uniquely human characteristics-counterfactual thinking (imagining alternatives to the past) and the fundamental drive to create meaning in life-are causally related. Rather than implying a random quality to life, the authors hypothesized and found that counterfactual thinking heightens the meaningfulness of key life experiences. Reflecting on alternative pathways to pivotal turning points even produced greater meaning than directly reflecting on the meaning… 

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