Three Ways to See Meaning in Your Life

Nourishing my own needs — especially emotional ones — gives me the stamina and strength to be fully present in my life and extend a caring hand to others. We both face our human challenges, and I struggle more with finding life’s balance. I therefore make conscious efforts to focus on what is important in our lives and to honor that. Being social creatures, we often fall into a trap of following what others expect from us and thus tend to give importance to their opinions about us and our life.

Pursuing hobbies or activities you enjoy can be an effective way to bring meaning into your life. Focus on doing work that is meaningful to you, whether it involves pursuing a career that you love, developing your creative skills, or simply enjoying your leisurely pastimes. Even when you are struggling to find interest in anything, you can take steps to help gradually improve your mood and find your sense of purpose. It takes time, support, and often professional interventions in the form of therapy and medication, but over time, you can rediscover your sense of meaning. Some values may be closer to your heart and more personally meaningful than others.

Helping Others

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. By surrounding yourself with people that genuinely love you, you are able to realize that your existence resounds with the people around you. While we might not be able to test our presence against the greater odds, there are ways to assure our sense of self through belonging. People who do so end up being more positive in life, acquiring better attitudes for everything they do—from pleasure to working. “I studied, or at least I attempted to study, a lot of different things before I came here. And then I ended up here and I liked the courses well enough, but once again it was completely unplanned.

Avoid being overwhelmed by breaking it down into smaller categories. Here’s what finding your life purpose means and how you can achieve it. There is no wrong way to grieve, so be compassionate to how to create meaning in life yourself and don’t make judgments on what you should or shouldn’t be doing. About 10% of bereaved adults are at risk, and those rates appear to have increased in the aftermath of the pandemic.

San Diego seniors reflect on the wisdom they’ve gained from watching the world change

I loved being able to say I worked at a big-name bank.’ Jane has now changed career and is creating a social enterprise to help people recovering from addiction. Many people are in their 30s or 40s when they realise they’re on a path that doesn’t suit them, but the desire to learn how to find greater meaning in life can happen at any age. After four years in investment banking, Jane, 28, felt ‘soul dead’.

  • Feeling empty every day, dreading getting up in the morning or questioning the point of our work, relationship or life, are clear signs it’s time for a change.
  • We have free choice and, therefore, choose our values and purpose.
  • Students writing about their thoughts and feelings about entering college showed better health outcomes and improved their grades more significantly than students in a control condition.
  • Without such a purpose in life, a lot of time and energy is often “fretted away” on social media and on “busyness,” for instance (Bruch and Ghoshal, 2002, 2004; for a review see Schippers and Hogenes, 2011).
  • We both face our human challenges, and I struggle more with finding life’s balance.
  • I had a career I’d always dreamed of – as a journalist for a major news organisation.
  • The human search for meaning is strongly intertwined with our relationship to work.

Take time to reflect on what being human means according to your experience so far. Think about the meaningful moments you’ve experienced, and ask yourself what values can be learnt from them. Then think about how to bring those values into your everyday life. This will only cause stress, and can block your ability to enjoy the little things that give meaning to life. If you feel you’re overthinking it, pause, and take a moment to be mindful.

Are you living life on autopilot?

The so-called “instrument” we used was the age at which people become eligible for receiving their retirement benefits in the United States as per the Social Security retirement benefits. Work organizes our lives; it gives us short-term goals such as preparing for the next meeting or long-term goals such as advancing our careers. Work surrounds us with people and helps us play our part in making our societies function and improve. According to Gallup data, since the 1990s, 55 percent of workers in the United States consistently report deriving a sense of identity from their jobs as opposed to viewing their jobs as something they do for a living. This article explores a few of the questions central to the vast and complex topic of meaning and purpose in life and introduces techniques and tools to help clients find answers. In the end, they found that people who are persistently engaged in the pursuit of deriving meaning, and focus on selfless, self-transcendent values, tend to have more feelings of personal power in stressful situations and make less harsh judgments.

  • I loved being able to say I worked at a big-name bank.’ Jane has now changed career and is creating a social enterprise to help people recovering from addiction.
  • Even though we are more awkward, have less flexibility, we enjoy what remains of our health and vibrancy.
  • The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.
  • Vallerand (2012) argues that either motivation or passion drives our desire and interest in activities.
  • “When we approach big questions in [relation to God or a higher power] and order our lives so that they reflect values which transcend perceptual limitations, we can tap into meaning in a powerful way,” he added.

Although such experiences may lead the self to feel small in the context of vastness, they may also remind us that we belong to that vastness—that we are an indelible part of the wider universe in which we exist. Similarly, in the Gallup data cited before, only 45 percent of those who don’t hold a college degree derive a sense of identity from their jobs versus 70 percent of the college-educated adults. Altogether, these findings show that opportunities to derive meaning and satisfaction from work are not distributed equally. During the pandemic, many people reported reevaluating where they find meaning in their lives. For some, these reflections seem to have resulted in them quitting their jobs or retiring, initiating one of the most interesting economic stories of the pandemic, “The Great Resignation.” If we accept the existentialists’ view, then we are free to lead a life according to our values, assign a meaning to what we see as vital, and pursue a unique purpose.

Living a meaningful life can be facilitated by a greater awareness of core values and the thoughts behind them. The insights provided by understanding personal values can help regain a sense of meaning to improve motivation. In today’s consumerist, fast-moving culture, the pursuit of meaning in life may not be everyone’s immediate goal. However, research shows that finding meaning in life, whatever that might be for the individual, could significantly benefit well-being. Research has shown that gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions.

But we now know that most people, most of the time, report that their lives feel more meaningful than not. Although actively constructing meaning may be required in some cases—for example, when your world is turned upside down after a traumatic event—cultivating meaning in life may be as simple as detecting the meaning that is already there. Our research suggests that thinking about work as an inherently meaningful activity may be misleading. The socioeconomic factors can make nonwork activities more meaningful than work especially when they undermine people’s abilities to choose the jobs that they like. Perhaps these findings can explain why the Great Resignation was mostly driven by low-wage workers seeking better jobs or older adults retiring early.

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