You’ve probably asked yourself these questions countless times,
“Why am I here?”, “What’s the point of it all?” and “what am I meant to do with my life?”
At the end of the day, what you’re really looking for is to live a meaningful and purposeful life…a life that matters.
Am I right?
You’re worried that you’re going about your life the wrong way and that by the time you’re 50 or 60, you’ll have nothing but a deep sense of regret and unfulfilment.
It makes sense though. Because the truth is, we only get to live once.
So what makes a meaningful life and a life that matters?
The secret to a meaningful life
The truth is, there is no secret!
What is meaningful depends on each person. There is no one formula for living a meaningful and rich life. Finding meaning is your own personal journey to discovering what really matters in life and then pursuing those things.
But wait…the good news is that you can do it.
You can find meaning in your life. Meaning is out there and it’s waiting for you, if you know where to look for it.
To help you find your path, there are some different patterns and common ways that people have come to live a rich, meaningful and deep life.
You can use these things as your personal guide to living a fulfilling and meaningful life, and one that you would be proud of when all your precious moments are near its end.
1. Find your significance
We often ask ourselves “What am I supposed to do with my life or what is my purpose?”
The answer is in significance.
Everybody wants to leave their mark in this world. They want to be able to feel as though their life served a purpose, and usually that purpose is linked to having a valuable and significant impact in the world.
For some, it’s enough to simply make a valuable contribution to just one other person, and for others, they want to influence a whole community or even the world.
What is your significance?
What do you dream that you could do in this world? And what drives you?
To live a meaningful and fulfilling life, find out what matters most to you in this world and then choose to make an impact with it.
2. Choose wholeness over happiness
Don’t get me wrong. Happiness is very important in life. However, when everything we do is aimed at pursuing happiness, it becomes dangerous.
This is because, it assumes that happiness should be our default position, but happiness does not teach us anything. It is our challenges and failures that grow us and make us who we are.
So what about wholeness?
“Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are”.
– Hugh Mackay
Another important thing to remember about striving solely for happiness is that happiness is often more about being a taker rather than a giver. Essentially, we are happy when we get what we want…or at least that’s what we think.
“Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desires are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided”.
– Roy F. Baumeister
So, to find more meaning in your life, strive for wholeness above happiness. Certainly embrace happiness when it comes your way, but don’t let it be your ultimate goal in life.
Otherwise, you are likely to find little meaning, growth and purpose, and may find yourself living solely for your own good rather than enriching the lives of others.
3. Be intentional
Are you being intentional about ‘building’ powerful meaning in your life?
Are you choosing to make your moments in life matter or are you disregarding opportunities that could potentially add to an incredibly meaningful life?
Sometimes the answer to creating meaning in our life lies in the very small opportunities all around us where we can connect with others, contribute to others and constantly consider new ways to make all of our moments matter.
4. Embrace mindfulness and self-reflection
You need to be present with your experiences if you want to find meaning in them.
Mindfulness and self-reflection is about being aware of what we are doing and who we are.
“Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally, to things as they are.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
To find meaning, we need to learn how to really experience the moment and then go deeper into ourselves, and ask questions like “What is important to me, what makes me fulfilled and what do I want to do in my life?”.
We need to take time away from our busy lives and allow ourselves to reflect, experience and make sense of our life.
5. Dare to take risks
Every time you push past your fears, you become more of the person you want to be.
And as you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll be amazed at the different opportunities that life has to offer.
Finding purpose and meaning in our lives entails risks. You won’t find meaning doing the same old things. Meaning will not come knocking on your door, rather, you need to actively seek it. And a lot of the time, meaningful opportunities will be hiding in places that are outside of your comfort zone.
“Many people are passionate, but because of their limiting beliefs about who they are and what they can do, they never take the actions that could make their dream a reality” – Anthony Robins
A minister once said that the saddest thing about officiating a funeral is not the death of the body but the death of dreams. He went on to say that the wealthiest place on the planet is a cemetery because there you will find endless amounts of potential never manifested, often because they let fear stand in their way.
Don’t live your life wishing that you had done things differently. Live a life full of meaning by daring to take risks and fighting for your dreams.
6. Put your heart on the line
Relationships give so much meaning to our lives.
Without relationships, life wouldn’t be the same and you wouldn’t be the person you are today.
Even those who consider themselves ‘self-made’ are deeply indebted to more people than they can count.
“Relationships are the oceans in which we find meaning” – Michael Steger
Sadly, many people get to a point in their life where they cut themselves off from deep and meaningful relationships. People no longer get to see their vulnerable side and who they really are.
Perhaps it’s because deep inside they feel they are not worthy or they fear rejection.
But pushing opportunities away to truly connect with others will only make you feel alone and unfulfilled.
If you want a meaningful life, choose to go deeper. Give others a bit of your inner self and let them see who you really are.
7. Believe that you are significant
Let’s just say that you have enriched the lives of hundreds, even thousands of people…
That’s certainly got to make you feel good about yourself, right? Surely that will give you a sense of meaning and purpose?
The truth is, you may have changed more people’s lives than you can count, but if you don’t believe it and credit yourself for it, then how are you ever going to feel like you have made a meaningful difference?
How can you find your significance if you don’t believe you are capable of being significant?
Self-value and believing in yourself is essential if you want to find meaning in your life.
Meaning is what we make of it. We choose when to believe when something is meaningful.
If you struggle with valuing yourself and feeling worthy, try to tell yourself every day that you are important and capable of making a valuable contribution in this world. And maybe in time, you will truly believe it.
“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others” – Pablo
We only live once but if you do it right, once is enough
We’re never going to know all the answers in life….but that doesn’t mean you can’t live a rich and meaningful life.
It really comes down to making a choice…a choice to intentionally make all your precious moments matter.
Rather than living your life on auto-pilot, you need to take control and seek opportunities in your life that will add a new depth and sense of meaning to your life.
And now that you know where to look, it will be easier than ever!
About the Author: Chantalle Gerber is a writer and co-founder of Want2discover. Visit her website for more great articles on self-improvement and how to live a fulfilling and happy life. Be sure to download a copy of her Free Ebook: 52 Simple Steps Towards Happiness and Success.