Do you ever get the feeling that living a meaningful life is just a passing trend? Just one of those buzz phrases that captures everyone's attention for a hot minute before something else crops up to take over. We understand the feeling, but the truth is there really is something to it. The problem lies in understanding what it really means and how you can get it for yourself.
What Living Meaningfully Means
Is it enough to savor the pleasures of life and engage in your hobbies? Is it enough to live positively and be in touch with your emotions? Is it enough?
The majority of thought leaders don't believe so. While all of those points are important to your overall happiness, so too is looking outside yourself. You see, to live a fulfilled life that is full with satisfaction and contentment we need meaning, as well as pleasure.
How can you give your life meaning? The answer for you likely won't be the same as it will be for your neighbor or your best friend or even for me. For many people, their meaning is in raising their children, while for others, it is rooted in their sprituality, and for others it's all about contributing to the community.
No matter what it is, what we know is that you can enhance your well-being by being part of something bigger, by engaging in things that last long beyond your life.
We all want to leave our stamp on something and be remembered positively by those we leave behind. The truth is that unless you cure cancer or invent something incredible the only people that will remember you when you're gone are the people you knew. Don't discount the lives you touch as those lives go on to touch other lives and so on and so forth. This means you reach and impact is greater than you realize. So, a kind word today could make all the difference in a person's life and the lives they go on to influence.
When I was 22, I was waiting at a bus stop one morning. Not being in a particularlly good mood because my dad wouldn't let me have the car to go to work, I must have had a scowl on my face. There was a middle-aged woman also waiting for the bus and based on her humble clothing, it appeared to me like using public transportation was propbably her regular mode of transport.
But with those four words, a stranger, that I was to never see again, had a profound impact on my day and my life.
There was no conversation between us as we waited, but then as the bus arrived, she turned to me and said, "Have a blessed day." I realized in that moment, that I had been behaving like a spoiled brat (emotionally) and was ashamed of my arrogance and attititude about taking public transportation. This was all happening inside of me and short of my facial expressions, no one knew my thougts. But with those four words, a stranger, that I was to never see again, had a profound impact on my day and my life. So, you never know the difference you can make to the people around you right now—even strangers.
Meaning and Well-Being
Additionally, researchers in a Hungarian study found that there was a connection between a state of well-being and having a sense of meaning or purpose in life. The study invited participants to take a survey where they rated statements on well-being and life meaning. A linked study also found that people with a strong sense of meaning in their lives were more protective over their lives, thus smokers scored lower than non (and former) smokers on the life meaning scale.
Living a meaningful life is as simple as discovering your strengths and understanding your values and then using them for something that is much bigger than you. Some people are lucky enough to build a career doing that while others have to find other outlets to create meaning.
Humans are meaning makers!
We are all on this planet just trying to get by, but living meaningfully is about thriving and truly living life, rather than merely surviving.
A meaningful life, a strong sense of well-being, and joy are three components that foster each other. Living meaningfully isn't the same as pursuing activities and experiences that engage you and make you happy – it means also looking outside of yourself. We are all on this planet just trying to get by, but living meaningfully is about thriving and truly living life, rather than merely surviving.
Are You Living Meaningfully?
What about you? Are you living your best life and leading a meaningful one? Or, are you still in search of something greater? Or maybe you've grown and it is time to consider what that 'something greater' looks like now?
If you feel as though you've changed and you're no longer living your purpose then it may be time to reassess your values. Don't be surprised if they do change, the truth is what was important to you at 25 probably won't be the exact same as what you care about at 50.
It's natural for us to evolve as people and see our views and thoughts shift. It's okay to tune into that and make changes in your life accordingly.