Photo by Josh Willink
Literature and all kinds of popular media romanticized the idea of what is the definition of a meaningful life. A meaningful life varies for each person, but they have a standard formula for achieving this state of living.
What does it mean to have a meaningful life? Does it mean a life that’s always happy, with little or far less sadness or misery? Does it refer to a life of contentment or satisfaction? Or is it tied to wealth and material accumulation?
In today’s fast-paced world and lifestyle, it’s easy to confuse a meaningful life with the kind of life expected from standards dictated by tradition or peers.
But in constructive psychology, a meaningful life is often associated with having a purpose, a sense of fulfillment, or significance in what an individual is doing or has achieved. A meaningful life is also that connection and engagement that you share and relate with other people.
Some people find life meaningful if they’re on a mission, an advocacy that speaks of their passion. For others, it’s about living out their beliefs, values, or tradition. Then to other people, it is a life about achievement, a realization of their hopes and dreams, be it something tangible or intangible.
Ultimately, all of these point to one direction: a meaningful life is a life worth living – whether it’s embedded with all-out happiness or mixed with sadness and exhaustion.
Being True to Thy Self
Living a meaningful life begins with knowing yourself and what your heart and soul want. It starts with that vulnerable honesty and acceptance of what you have in you, which include your talents and gifts at all levels, skin deep or not. It involves being open and truthful to what you think and feels and free from fear of judgment or biases.
Being true to yourself means trusting your intuition and not relying on anyone else’s standards. You focus on your values rather than what society has set standards for you.
Being true to yourself means that you are answerable to no one except to the ONE who made you.
And once you hold this truth, you’re ready to take that journey down that road to create a purposeful life worth living.
How to Live a Meaningful Life
Let’s get one thing straight: meaningful life is not about a life that’s comfortable for you. Achieving this state of life may ask you to leave your comfort zone and take risks if necessary. The journey can be full of potholes and stones along the road that could be rough and bumpy for the traveler.
It should not be the road you need to focus on but the prize up ahead that’s glittering and shimmering, waiting for you to grasp it so that you can start getting your fill of what it is to have a meaningful life.
So, if you’re ready, let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the ways to start that journey on the less traveled road.
Searching for Purpose
The journey begins with having a motivation that pushes you to get up each morning, ready to tackle life anew. This purpose is a reason for you to keep on striving and thriving every day. Is your goal for working to provide for your family’s needs? Is your intention to wake up late at night to secure a stable financial future? Or, you’re participating in community programs because you’re driven by a purpose and a desire to help others.
In this sense, purpose stems from passion, and passion is the beginning of creating that meaningful life.
Focusing on the Essentials
The essentials here refer to the crucial things in your life. These could be people in your life, career, or deeply-held values. You need to identify these things to help simplify working towards your goal of a meaningful life.
Recognizing what matters to you also helps you focus more on the goal ahead and not be easily deterred by obstacles or challenges.
Straightforwardly, mindfulness means being fully aware of the present moment, of what you’re seeing, thinking, doing, and feeling. It is awareness of your current state of mind and emotions coursing through your body.
What’s great about this practice is that you need not change anything about yourself. It simply recognizes yourself as a human having all emotions that would tell you, “hey, I’m only human.”
Taking on a mindfulness mindset can help a person practice self-control, tolerance, flexibility, and objectivity. It is a step in the right direction toward emotional intelligence, mental clarity, and, more importantly, the ability to empathize with other people. All of these are essential elements for achieving that meaningful way of living.
You can start exercising this method through meditation exercises, yoga, or even by something simple as a little bit of self-love and care.
A meaningful life is also about how you make a difference in other people’s lives, whether something small that you have done or making a huge sacrifice for them. This is where compassion comes into the picture. As they say, if you want others to do something for you, you must do the same thing to them first.
Compassion is defined as feeling the suffering or pain of the other and feeling the motivation to help relieve them of that pain. It is also about not holding a grudge by forgiving and letting go. After all, how can you move forward in your journey toward a meaningful life when you’re burdened by heaving emotions such as anger, bitterness, and misery?
Taking the Risk
Yes, people do need to take a risk if they are to live a life worth living. For instance, you’re in a career that’s stable and is the envy of everyone. But then your heart is calling – no, yearning to pack up your bag, leave, and join a missionary group to help the starving in Africa.
Instead of being held back by fear of what people might think of you and your decision, choose to follow your heart for that worthwhile mission. Unless you do something about it, your heart will keep knocking at you day in and day out till you heed and answer its call.
You need to take these risks because a meaningful life is not driven by “what ifs.”
A Life Worth Living
For some people, a meaningful life is founded on spirituality or a faith-filled life. It is a life of knowing God and God’s purpose for people.
Gary R. Lindberg`s book about God`s existence, “God’s Existence: Truth or Fiction? The Answer Revealed”, reveals the truth of God’s presence that affect people’s lives and that knowing this answer can make life come to a full circle.
Whether faith-based or purpose-based, a meaningful life translates to living the best kind of life you could ever have.