What does it take to have a meaningful life? Money? Love? Adventure? Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what will give your life meaning. Arguably, there’s no inherent meaning to life. That might scare some people, but it’s actually great news. You can choose what is meaningful to you.
While it’s an individual decision, there are a few common starting points. The real individuality comes from how you choose to apply them.
- Evolution. It’s a little sad when someone reaches the pinnacle of their life at 35 and coasts to the end. To have a meaningful life, it’s important to grow and evolve. Otherwise, you’ll feel as if you’ve wasted your life. You’ll wonder what you could have accomplished with a little more time and attention.
- How have you changed over the last 10 years? What do you know now that you didn’t know then? What can you do now that you couldn’t do then? What new skills have you developed? How has your view of the world changed?
- Purpose. Everyone needs a purpose. We all know of someone that died shortly after retiring. Studies have shown that even something as simple as taking care of a plant extends the lifespan of those living in nursing homes. Fortunately, you can have a purpose without having to go to work for the rest of your life!
- Volunteering is a simple way to make a meaningful contribution that can make life worth living.
- You just need someone or something to serve. What is important to you? How can you contribute in a way that you believe is meaningful?
- Belonging to a group. It can be a large family, an extensive network of friends, a church, where you work, a club of some sort, or any other type of organization. We all need to belong to a group and to be accepted by the other members of that group.
- Where is your tribe? Without a group, we tend to feel ignored and unappreciated.
- If you don’t have a tribe to call your own, go out and find one. You could even start your own.
- A meaningful past. Over time, we all develop a past. One of the worst outcomes of a long life is to look back on a past that we regret. A past of squandered opportunities is sure to make you cringe when you look back on your life. We all want to have a great story to tell and share.
- What kind of story will you have? What stories do you have to share right now?
- How have you lived the last 10 years? How will you live the next 10?
- Value experiences and relationships over possessions. Our society is perhaps the most materialistic on Earth. Our society also doesn’t rank anywhere near the top for happiness. That’s a strong clue that possessions aren’t all that meaningful.
- How much enjoyment have you gotten from purchasing something expensive? How long did that enjoyment last? Did it give your life meaning?
- Ensure that you’re spending enough time on accumulating experiences and meaningful relationships. The Ferrari will mean less to you than you think.
What is meaningful to you? How do you need to live in order to believe your life is meaningful? In what ways do you need to grow and contribute to feel that your time on Earth has meaning?
You can choose what will give your life meaning. It’s entirely in your hands, but it’s important to make a conscious choice.