Initially, it was believed leading a meaningful life means being rich, being popular, being highly educated or being successful but it was observed that though individuals had all of these they constantly felt they were missing something and later they realised that leading a meaningful life means being authentic to oneself, and being able to share oneself in order to touch the life of others.
Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology mentioned that meaning comes from belonging to and serving something beyond yourself and from developing the best within you.
Research states that individuals who lead a meaningful life are more resilient, able to perform well in school and work and they tend to live a longer life.
Smith proposed four pillars of more meaningful life, these include:
Sense of Belongingness: Individuals who lead a meaningful life value others in their lives and also find and surround them with people who value them.
Knowing their purpose: Individuals who lead a meaningful life know what drives them from inside and engage themselves in things that gives them the inner satisfaction or pleasure. They usually think about what they can give rather than thinking about what they want and they use their strengths to serve others. Always look for opportunities that would give them purpose to live for and to move forward in their lives.
Experience transcendence: Individuals leading a meaningful live would indulge themselves in activities that help them to raise above and to feel connected to something beyond themselves.
Narrative: Stories have immense power, the way individuals view and narrate their life stories matters, and it gives an individual a sense of clarity of what they are, how they are viewing their life and what they are doing with their life.
Are you an individual leading a meaningful life?
Few characteristic that differentiates a person leading a meaningful life from the rest.
Accountable: These are highly responsible individuals who sole handily take the responsibility for their action and their life.
Be aware of action: These individuals are extremely cautious in nature and have a clear understanding of the consequences of their actions/ words.
Passionate: Extremely passionate about what they do and their love for things reflect in the way they do things and its quality.
Focused: These individuals are extremely focused on the activity on their hand and take things one at a time.
High Value: Morality driven individuals who has a standard set of values for them based on their experience and never do anything to break or surpass it.
Precision: These individuals are extremely detailed focused and work towards achieving their goal.
Energetic: Highly energetic and achieves everything that they have set for themselves without losing themselves in the process.
Simplicity: These individuals are not the ones who roam around in fancy cars, having a rich lifestyle, they are usually the ones who practices the principle of ‘Keeping it simple’, so that they know where to focus their resources and energy on.
Self-Expression: These individuals are best at expressing what they think and feel in a highly authentic way without hurting the sentiments of others in an assertive and polite manner.
Givers: These individuals don’t chase anything but get pleasure from giving their gifts (talent) to the world for the betterment of it.
Less worried about others: These individuals are self-driven so other people’s opinion, view and comment about what they do and who they are don’t matter to them because they have this clarity of what and who they are.
Scheduled: They have a well- scheduled life where they have time allotted to do things that they are passionate about and engage themselves in activities that given adds to their purpose.
Why lead a meaningful life?
In today’s generation where individuals life a superficial life, where they live just to show off to people rather than living and experiencing the moment. Research has identified the benefits of living a meaningful life, these include:
- Individuals leading a meaningful life feel a sense of control over their life.
- Have solid and fruitful relationship.
- Are more satisfied with the work that they do!
- Have lesser risk for developing depression or anxiety.
- Have improved health and stronger immune system.
- 3 times more loyal to the work they do and the person they are with.
- Perform efficiently and have greater resilience.
- Feel more positive emotion and happiness in life.
- Engages in activities that lead to personal growth and development.
- Lead a more satisfied and fulfilled life.
Pathway for a meaningful life!
Here are few tips to help you make your life meaningful.
Explore: Exploration is the key to a meaningful life. Find out what interests you, what triggers your passion that drives you from inside, and teaches you about important things in your life.
Passion: Follow your heart, when you know something is your call for your life, just blindly follow your heart but remember to take your brain along with it.
Perceive: Perceive and process things and experiences in life in meaningful way by connecting experiences to larger and wider picture.
Reflection: Engage in the process of self-reflection at continuous interval, it gives an idea about the purpose of your life and how you are progressing in it.
Start Small: Make leading a meaningful life a priority and make minute changes in life to add meaning to living in small ways.
Altruism: Engage in behaviour where you serve others without thinking about what you get in return but serving others for the purpose of doing it. It helps you in looking for something beyond.
Gratitude Journal: Keep a track of things you are grateful for. This adds to meaning to your life and increase your want to give back to something beyond and larger than self.
Engagement: Engage in something for the sake of it and go with the flow of doing things. Find activities that make you feel energised and engage yourself in it completely.
Avoid engaging in activities that drain you: There are few activities that make you feel drained and worn out and you rush through the activity and do it for sake of completing it not caring much about how well you do it.
Lead a value based life: Figure out your core values of what you want and don’t want to be or do, this gives a lot of meaning by giving you a sense of clarity and make you lead a life by upholding your values.
Donate time: Take stock of people in your life and make efforts to strengthen and deepen relationship bond between them by giving them time and being a listener.
Engage with people who accept you for who you are: Keep yourself surrounded with people who accept you for who you are and not constantly asking you to change or complain about your imperfections.
Expand your community: Pursue relationship, involve and commit yourself to relationships that make you stronger and facilitate your growth and development.
Authentic self: Start small and be true to yourself i.e.., start by asking how you are feeling and be true to what and how you are feeling. Find an effective way to express how you are feeling.
Cultivate Compassion: Compassion is the ability to be open to the suffering of others and being kind. Compassion teaches us a way of looking beyond ourselves.
Be open to learning: Be open to new experiences and learning, new skills helps us be more effective in the world not only for our own life but also for the cause we serve.
Strive for better future: Not only for yourself but a better future for human kind.
Lens of positivity: Learn to focus your attention on things that seems important or significant to you and choose to filter your experiences from lens of positivity.
Be proactive: A proactive person recognises that they are responsible for how they respond to events and circumstances and takes responsible for their life, because they know that it is not the event but the way the person perceives and responds to situations adds meaning to a person’s life.
Identify strengths: Every individual being is born with a gift or talent, something that they are extremely good at. Identifying strengths would help the individual feel that their life is more meaningful.
Serving using strength: Serving others by making use of your strength or talent would make you feel that you are leading a meaningful life and are serving a purpose.
Write and reframe your story: Writing your story helps the individual see how different events in their lives are contributing to their whole picture. Reframing your story gives you a sense of clarity about your life and yourself.
Think on how to leave a legacy: Constantly question yourself if today was the last day of your life, how would you be wanted be known as and if you are satisfied with the legacy you leave behind, if not rework on components that would help you leave a meaningful legacy.
Professional Help: Logotherapy, a form of psychotherapy which emphasises on helping the individual finding values and purpose in their life by facilitating the individual to engage in activities and build relationship to attain meaningfulness.
Remember You Only Live Once, so make your life meaningful by working for a cause not for applause and living a life to express than to impress.
A famous write once stated that
‘To live is the rarest thing in the world most people in the world just exist’
– Oscar Wilde.