I’ve always wondered what makes life meaningful, and now that I’m 41, I decided it’s time to make a list of things that add meaning to my life. Not children, though – we don’t have kids.
I watched “The Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman (okay, not with them), I’m more enchanted than ever by that question.
“Challenges make life interesting, however, overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” ~ Mark Twain.
Overcoming challenges makes life meaningful? Ugh. Who needs more challenges in life? I much prefer Freeman’s statement in The Bucket List: “Find your joy.”
But, life isn’t just about finding joy…or is it?
What Makes Life Meaningful?
When I asked this question on a forum, Lori Chidori Philips, the Marriage editor at BellaOnline, said:
“I had to ask myself what makes life meaningful after the death of my little boy and the impending demise of my daughter. Learning, exploring my inner and outer world has been very helpful. Life is a grand and glorious experience, and I liken my life to strolling through a sunny meadow, gathering wildflowers of experiences to take back with me. Knowing that the good, the bad and the ugly all serve a purpose in expanding my awareness makes life meaningful to me, no matter what happens.”
Isn’t that a optimistic, positive, beautiful perspective from a woman who’s been through what she has?
But wait – there’s more:
“When I hear of people trying to find meaning and purpose in their lives, I always encourage them to add a spiritual component to their search,” says Lori. “We are made of the mind, the body and the spirit and when you integrate all three into your life, you will experience deeper fulfillment.
When people say they’re doing ‘what they were meant to do’, they mean they’re doing things that brings them great joy that comes from their heart. Do what you love. Love is what makes life meaningful and joyful…and it comes in many, many forms.”
So maybe Morgan Freeman was right when he said to “find your joy.”
A Psychotherapist’s Perspective on the Meaning of Life
Khalid Sohail is a psychotherapist in Ontario who counsels clients who struggle with meaninglessness, no life purpose, and feeling unfulfilled.
Here’s what this therapist did to help people struggling with the meaning of life:
“They did not suffer from any mental illness,” he said. “They were not psychotic or clinically depressed. Their main complaints were:
- “My life is meaningless”
- “I have no purpose in life”
- “My life is not fulfilling”
“They wanted me to help them in creating a meaningful life,” says Dr Sohail. “While I was working with these people, I prepared a questionnaire and sent it to my friends and colleagues to learn how they discovered their meaning in life. I thought reading those responses might help and inspire my patients to create their own unique meaningful lives.
A number of respondents had personal goals, ambitions and dreams that made their life meaningful. As they followed their passions and dreams, their life took a positive turn and became more enjoyable. Some wanted to develop their fullest potential while others wanted to develop their artistic talents and create masterpieces.”
We all find different things meaningful – ranging from spirituality to woodworking. The trick is to find what makes your life deep, rich, and fulfilling.
And, find your joy!
5 Quick Tips for a Meaningful Life
- Focus on your personal talents, and pursue a hobby, a passion and a dream. Get in touch with the special gifts life offers you – that you may be unaware of.
- Develop new relationships and creating a circle of close friends – a family of the heart.
- Volunteer to serve your community.
- Go back to school! I’m going to grad school at UBC.
- Find someone who needs you, and be there for him or her.
I want to build better relationships with people, and I want a pair of red cowboy boots! Also, I’ve been wanting to volunteer for about a year now. It’s time to get off my bum and start looking for a volunteer job…one that brings me joy…
If you’re wondering what this means to you, read How to Stop Feeling Like a Failure.
What about you – what makes life meaningful? Comments welcome below…