There are a variety of ways in which you can add more meaning to your life.
Generally, a meaningful life is viewed as a construct that’s linked to purpose, fulfillment, satisfaction, and significance.
With that in mind, how can you define a meaningful life?
A meaningful life is one in which you feel connected to a purpose, engaged, and you link your passions and gifts to your highest values.
Let’s explore what you need to know about establishing a meaningful life.
This is something you can do with the big picture of your life, such as when it comes to achieving your dreams, but it is also something you can do to achieve meaning on a daily basis.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Stopping You From Having A Meaningful Life?
- 2 How To Get Started With Choosing A Meaningful Life
- 3 Considering The Four Keys You Need To Unlock A Meaningful Life
- 4 How To Choose A Career That’s Infused With Meaning
- 5 The Importance Of Eliminating Toxic People From Your Life
- 6 Toxic Vs. Wholesome People
- 7 How To Make Your Free Time More Meaningful
- 8 How To Have More Meaningful Relationships
- 9 Meaningful Doesn’t Mean More: How To Be Wary Of A “More” Mindset
- 10 What’s The Difference Between Meaning And Purpose?
- 11 Related Questions
- 12 Conclusion
What Is Stopping You From Having A Meaningful Life?
There are obstacles that could be standing in your way of leading a more meaningful life. Here are some that might be showing up in your life right now.
You’re comparing your life to someone else’s
It’s important to bear in mind that what gives your life meaning could be very different from how another person finds meaning in their life.
Instead of feeling bad about your life because it’s not like someone else’s, it’s better to step back and consider what’s important to you so you can choose a meaningful life based on your passions and values.
You’re stuck in a rut
It’s easy to fall into a rut, whether in our jobs or relationships. Maybe you don’t even know what your purpose or passions are because you’re stuck in the motions of your daily schedules.
To get out of the rut, consider taking some time for yourself to think about what you need to be happy.
It’s also useful to step out of your comfort zone and do something new to help you explore new ways of finding meaning.
You’re in a victim mindset
You can’t make positive changes to your life and live a more harmonious, happy life if you believe bad things always happen to you or by feeling badly about the past.
By stepping out of that mindset and taking responsibility for your choices, you can gain greater perspective on your life – and this will also show you that you own the power to change it.
You’ll have greater awareness and be able to see that although negative things have happened, they have led you to a more empowering situation.
You’re leading a busy, stressful life
While you might think you can’t help the fact that you have so many things to do, you can center yourself and find meaning in your daily experiences.
You might be very busy, but when you’re rushing to work, stop to look at the beautiful flowers or clouds. Stop and be aware of your breath, or the sensations in your body.
These few minutes can help you to connect with the self and find meaning, while transcending stress that’s running your life.
How To Get Started With Choosing A Meaningful Life
It’s up to you to decide if you want to lead a life of meaning. When you’ve made that choice, there are some tips to help you get started immediately.
Figure Out What’s Important To You
Start by writing down the top five things that are the essence of how you want to live.
Basically, these are the most important things that you want to prioritize in your life, such as honesty, simplicity, or making time to write every day.
Chase Your Passion
Your passion is closely aligned to your life’s meaning. When you follow your passion, you find joy and this gives your life a greater purpose.
Your career might not be your passion, so it’s essential to dedicate time to what brings you joy regularly.
You should take stock of your feelings and actions on a regular basis so that you can ensure you stay on track with what you want out of life.
Do One Thing At A Time
It’s a myth to think you need big experiences or exciting ones to give your life meaning. While those can be useful, it’s really what’s happening right now in your life that can help you have a more meaningful existence.
Instead of doing many tasks simultaneously, get into the habit of doing one thing at a time.
This makes you more aware of what’s happening and where you’re at, while it also shows you details about your life or surroundings that you would have otherwise missed.
Research shows that concentrating on mundane chores, such as washing the dishes, can make them more interesting and fulfilling. This laser focus is a valuable element of mindfulness.
Considering The Four Keys You Need To Unlock A Meaningful Life
In the book, The Power Of Meaning, author Emily Esfahani Smith mentions four essential ways in which you can achieve greater meaning in your life.
- Strive for belonging. When you are acknowledged and understood by your social and family circles, this fosters the sense of being a part of a community. Some research has found that many people see their relationships as the most meaningful element of their lives.
- Find your purpose. When your long-term goals reflect your values while also serving the greater good, you will be in a position to inject your daily activities with greater meaning.
- Engage in storytelling. In this case, storytelling refers to using relevant experiences in a narrative that defines who you are. For example, by thinking about how you overcame obstacles in life, this could help you to grow and figure out why you’re on earth.
- Think about transcendence. It’s a useful tip to think about the experiences that fill you with wonder and make you feel like you’re rising above the everyday world. The author of the book states that doing this can lower your self-focus and help you to help others. When we reach out to others instead of concentrating on ourselves, this puts us into a state of service which can provide a lot of meaning.
How To Choose A Career That’s Infused With Meaning
If you’re worried that your career path is not focused on a greater purpose, there are ways in which you can shift your focus. Here’s how to embark on a more meaningful career.
Turn your passion into a career
While it’s not always possible, having a career that’s based on your passions is ideal. It gives you a greater purpose in life because you feel connected to what’s really important to you.
Consider how your work helps others
If you’re feeling down that your career isn’t focused on helping others, it can help you to take a more detailed look at it.
While your job might not be directly helping others, such as in the case of teachers, doctors, and nurses, it could be doing so indirectly.
For example, if you work in retail you’re providing customers with quality service; if you work as a creative writer, you’re providing people with the chance to escape the drudgery of their lives; and if you’re a graphic designer you’re helping companies boost their success.
Align yourself to a cause
What are the causes that you’re passionate about? This is something to consider when you’re job hunting as it helps to align you with a company’s values.
If the company you want to work for is donating to an important cause you feel strongly about or is committed to finding ways to help the environment, joining it will help you to feel you’re part of something meaningful.
Quick tips for helping you get started with a meaningful career:
- Make a list of what you think a meaningful career would look like.
- Ask a few people, such as loved ones or mentors, to give you their advice on how to achieve it. It helps to choose people who have achieved greater meaning in their careers.
- Think of how you can change your current job so that it gives you more meaning. For example, perhaps you could suggest a mentoring program to your boss or offer to join a team that’s working on a project that means something to you.
The Importance Of Eliminating Toxic People From Your Life
If you surround yourself with toxic people, you will reduce your life’s meaning and joy. This is because:
- Toxic people bring a lot of drama to your doorstep. They will lie to you, can break your self-worth, and can result in you losing yourself because they expect you to make them the center of your life.
- When you’re not the focus of your life, you can’t connect to the things that matter to you and which are important to make you feel satisfied and at peace.
- Toxic people and situations do not create peaceful environments, which can make it difficult for you to access your inner calm and peace.
- Since having toxic people in your life can break you down and drain your life force, this makes it difficult for you to dedicate energy to your life’s meaning.
Toxic Vs. Wholesome People
It helps to know the differences between toxic and wholesome people so you can align yourself with the latter, especially because toxic people don’t enter your life declaring that they’re toxic! Here are some of the most important differences between the two.
- Toxic people will play games, wholesome people don’t need to. Toxic people will try to manipulate you with games, whereas wholesome people will be clear and honest about who they are. You will see this immediately by how they’re transparent.
- Toxic people are self-centered, wholesome people aren’t. Toxic people want to focus on themselves, whereas wholesome people don’t need to grab all the attention from everyone around them.
- Toxic people don’t encourage healthy boundaries, but wholesome people ensure self-preservation. Toxic people want you to focus on them and give all your energy to them. By comparison, wholesome people will have boundaries. They won’t expect you to run yourself ragged to impress or keep them. Friendships and relationships with wholesome people are really about two people who are independent and have their own lives coming together to connect – not to take advantage of each other.
- Toxic people don’t support you, whereas wholesome people do. Toxic people might become resentful of your success or try to hold you back from achieving your goals. This can make it difficult for you to succeed. By comparison, wholesome people are your cheerleaders who want you to be happy and live your best life.
How To Make Your Free Time More Meaningful
The time you have at your disposal to use in any way you wish should be used wisely so that you increase its meaning. Here are some ideas to consider.
- Start a journal. It’s good to keep a journal so that you can record your feelings and thoughts. This will help you to stay focused on what you want to achieve, where you want to go in life, as well as tune in with your inner voice to find your truth.
- Do what brings you joy. There’s no better way to spend your free time than to do activities that spark your creativity, make you feel happy, and help you to lose yourself in them. Whether it’s camping, reading, writing, or walking through nature, these will make you feel refreshed and connected to yourself and/or your higher purpose.
- Dream a little. You might enjoy your day job, but is it aligned with your passions and dreams? This isn’t always the case, so it’s good to take time for your dreams. Even if you just focus on doing one small task that will help you move a little further along in your journey to achieve your dream, it will be worth it
- Volunteer. Acts of service are important to do on a regular basis. They help us take our attention away from ourselves for a while, while reminding us that the most important reason why we’re on this earth is to love each other. Reaching out to offer a helping hand also gives us greater perspective on our lives and can help us feel better about ourselves.
- Make connections. There’s no greater burden on our bodies and souls than being lonely. A meaningful life filled with connections that make us feel positive and inspired is a life worth living. When you surround yourself with people who do that for you, and offer you support during dark days, you will feel more joy and less isolation.
- Meditate. Meditation is something you should always make time for, even if you only have 10 minutes to spare for it. Mediation helps you to free your mind and find your inner calm. It also makes you more aware of your inner landscape, such as your thoughts and emotions, which provide you with valuable information about your current state as well as where you want to go in life.
How To Have More Meaningful Relationships
Do you ever feel like you’re just rushing through your interactions with people? When was the last time you actually had a heart-to-heart conversation with someone that felt meaningful?
Here are some ways in which you can start building more meaningful relationships.
- Engage in active listening. This type of listening is when you try to understand the other person’s point of view instead of trying to formulate a response while they’re talking. It involves making eye contact, showing positive body language, and asking questions.
- Remove distractions. You can’t properly connect with your partner or friend if you’re constantly checking your phone or glancing at the TV in the corner of the room. Switch off all devices and give the person your undivided attention.
- Do acts of service. If you’re only ever thinking of what you can gain from the actions or deeds you do in your relationship, this pulls you away from building a connection. Acts of service help to make the relationship flourish as they build greater love. Examples of questions to ask yourself include, “What can I do to help my partner today?” and “What does she/he need?”
- Find new things to talk about. If you’re always having the same conversations with your partner, this could become an obstacle to finding greater satisfaction from the relationship. Do activities together that you both enjoy and that will allow you to connect in a different way. This will be rejuvenating for your relationship and help you boost your emotional bond.
- Focus on your partner’s positive traits. It’s easy to get caught up by how many negative traits your partner has, but we all have flaws. By focusing on what you really cherish and value in your partner, this will foster greater respect and connection in your relationship. You can do this in small ways that are very meaningful, such as by giving them genuine compliments and telling your partner what they mean to you.
Meaningful Doesn’t Mean More: How To Be Wary Of A “More” Mindset
While you’re trying to find your passions and purpose, and striving to achieve greater meaning, a setback that could happen on your journey is cultivating too much of a “more” lifestyle.
This refers to thinking that having more in your life will give you greater meaning.
This directly conflicts with the idea that what you have right now is enough, and it will prevent you from having gratitude.
To prevent this from happening to you, get into the habit of keeping a list of things you feel grateful for every day.
It’s also beneficial to do mindfulness activities. These help you to become more aware of the moment and all it brings. It fosters greater appreciation for everything that’s happening in your thoughts, feelings, and outside of yourself.
Things might not be perfect right now, or even pleasant. Maybe what you’re aware of during your mindfulness activities is that there are things you don’t like in your environment or you’re not happy with the thoughts you’re experiencing.
But, you will feel that everything is okay; you will learn to be content and accept what is. This brings greater balance to your life.
What’s The Difference Between Meaning And Purpose?
While you might use the two terms interchangeably, there is a crucial difference between meaning and purpose.
Meaning is basically how we define something, as well as our reason for doing it. By comparison, purpose is fulfilling that meaning.
So, another way to put it is that meaning is what we intend to do while purpose is how we accomplish that intention.
What are some good books to help you find your meaning in life?
Useful books include A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle, Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday, and Altruism: The Science and Psychology of Kindness by Matthieu Ricard.
Will you have greater self-worth when cultivating meaning in life?
Since meaning provides you with a greater purpose and allows you to connect to your core values, it can make you feel more in control of your life which certainly boosts your sense of self-worth.
What is a life well lived? There are many important ways in which you can start living a more meaningful life.
In this article, we’ve looked at how you can build a more meaningful career, have more significant and fulfilling relationships, and connect to yourself.