The question of how to find meaning in life confronts everyone at some point on their journey. Though there is no single answer that applies to all people, it isn’t as hopelessly unknowable as it might initially seem.
What is the Difference Between Happiness and Meaning?
Understanding how meaning and happiness differ will help you on your path to a more fulfilling way of life. In simple terms, happiness is a relatively short-lived sensation. By comparison, meaning offers something that grows as you nurture it and allows for all the variety and emotion that’s unavoidable in life. Anyone seeking a purely happy life will ultimately be disappointed, but you can strive for meaning and have far greater success.
Here are fourteen tips to guide you on your journey to living a life that you find meaningful.
1. Explore Your Personal Values
A crucial first step to a meaningful life is identifying your core values. Everyone has their own set of values that they hold above all others. Once you know what yours are, you will find it easier to live by them and seek lasting meaning. Examples of core values are:
Of course, there are many more possible core values a person could possess. Once you have identified yours, it can be useful to highlight the ones that mean the most to you.
2. Live According to Your Beliefs
With a clearer understanding of your core values, you can now start changing your actions to match your beliefs. People often feel dissatisfied and uncomfortable in life when their actions don’t line up with their values.
3. Become More Observant
The more you can appreciate the smaller details in life, the more opportunities for satisfaction you will find. Learn to pay attention even when bored or impatient. Keep your curiosity alight and view the world as worthy of exploring. Skimming life like an uninteresting book will leave you feeling unsatisfied, so instead, look for details that bring you joy. Reflect on what your childhood self would find fascinating about the world.
4. Enhance the Lives of Others
There are small ways and big ways to enhance the lives of others. A small way might be to recommend a book to a friend, while a big way might be something significant, like deciding to help a couple have a baby. If you are wondering how to become a surrogate, look for agencies such as ConceiveAbilities for information about the process. People often claim that the most meaningful aspects of their lives were the times they acted generously and brought joy to someone else, whether they knew the person or not.
5. Train Yourself to Avoid Judgement
Being overly judgemental causes disruption within your social life and inner life. Judgemental people are often also concerned with being judged by others, which causes the mind to obsess over details you can’t control. Open-minded people are usually better able to cope in difficult situations.
6. Care for Your Physical Wellbeing
How you care for your body will directly influence the health of your mind. Although the advice sounds cliched by now, exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet are essential to a supportive foundation. It is much easier to take other steps towards a meaningful life when you feel content in your body.
7. Learn to Forgive
Holding a grudge against those who have hurt you in the past is only doing you harm. As difficult as it can be, forgiving people and letting go will allow you to move on with your life. This also applies to yourself. Forgive your own mistakes instead of punishing yourself for them.
8. Work with Your Community
Studies continue to prove that a lack of community has a severely negative impact on a person’s overall wellbeing. Even self-proclaimed introverts need to be around other people to preserve their health. As the world becomes more connected on a larger scale, smaller communities where individuals can connect are becoming more difficult to sustain. By taking steps to reach out to your community, you will both add meaning to your life and enhance the lives of people around you.
9. Try Something Creative
Expressing creativity is a fantastic way to process your emotions in a healthy and meaningful way. You may also discover a new passion that soothes your soul.
10. Work On Your Gratitude
It is apparent that one of the greatest keys to lasting contentment is a strong sense of gratitude. When you think about all that you are grateful for, no matter how big or small, you will instantly appreciate life more. Dissatisfaction comes from wanting, so it follows that satisfaction can be achieved by appreciating what you already have.
11. Build Your Resilience
Pursuing happiness may lead you to avoid painful situations. Unfortunately, this is a pointless goal since life is unpredictable and uncontrollable. However, you can develop your resilience to challenges and embrace adversity for the value it has to offer.
12. Don’t Dwell On the Past
Although there is some value in learning from past mistakes, ruminating about it will only bring you discomfort. Wishing to go back and make different choices will distract you from the joy available in the present.
13. Don’t Worry About the Future
Just as the past shouldn’t be dwelt upon, the future shouldn’t be worried about. Planning and hoping are useful, but panicking about future events outside your control is not.
14. Foster a Love of the Journey and Process
When people are only excited about the destination, they only experience temporary happiness at the end of the journey. By appreciating the process with all its twists and turns, you can find greater meaning and lasting contentment.
To live a more meaningful life, you first need to see the value in meaning as an important component of lasting satisfaction. While a meaningful life will likely have more moments of happiness, meaning is more fulfilling than happiness alone. You must be dedicated to the process of continually cultivating your inner world in a manner that aligns with your values and brings you contentment.