How to Find Meaning in Life
We all go through times when we question the meaning of life. There’s the pressure that we should be having an extraordinary experience right now. Our kids should be wide-eyed and golden. Our jobs fulfilling and fun. Our relationships blissful and perfect. Our homes beautiful and bright. But what if they aren’t?
Where is the meaning in life when things don’t seem how they ought to?
- We become disappointed at not finding meaning where we expect it.
- We feel confused about why we’re here as a human being at this time.
- We may feel broken or inferior when everyone else seems to fit in and have a place in the world.
- What about me? We ask. Where is the meaning in my life?
Meaning is not inherent. Meaning is simply what we think based on a set of underlying beliefs. Therefore if we want anything to have meaning, we must think about it and apply it. Nothing outside of us, no job, no relationship, experience, goal, place, or much-wanted present can give our lives meaning.
In the same way, you can’t make a lump of dough rise into the bread without adding active yeast to the mix, you have to add meaning if you want it to exist.
And, the meaning you add will determine your experience. For example, a heavy snowfall could mean a magical landscape of crystalline white beauty surrounding me. Or it can be a hassle, a spoiler of plans. I decide the meaning I give it each time the snow begins to fall. There is nothing in existence exempt from this law, not even you.
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I realize this can feel like a heavy burden, or you can embrace it as your greatest power. Again, based on how you want to give meaning to it. If you decide to own it and be responsible for the way you apply your thoughts, you’ll be accepting your own free will, the power to interpret experience, change your thoughts and apply meaning to any circumstance you experience.
Do you see how this is a “good thing?”
The meaning of your life, in particular, can only be found inside of you, not out there. Stop allowing yourself to be sold on commercials and billboards. You won’t find it there. You have to sit quietly and ask your Soul what it wants for you every day. Be patient…its answer comes in whispers, urges, and feelings. You must tune in to hear it. You’ll recognize it when it triggers emotions in you, like when you feel really angry or sad, or both about something going on in the world. About something going on with you.
Maybe you feel:
- sad/regret over abandoning something you once enjoyed when you were younger.
- feel angered by the destruction of something you love, forests, rivers, the sea.
- words, music, or colors rise up in you and you don’t know what to do with any of that.
- an urge to go, run, move and you simply push it away.
- like you’ve been pressing yourself into a mold that’s not right for you.
Creating meaning requires you to do only two simple things:
- Go within to learn about who you are.
- Share it with others.
We find the most meaning in life when we’re able to honor our feelings and discover our gifts by giving them to others. Viktor Frankl, in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, states, “The more one forgets himself – by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love – the more human he is.”
Your personal gifts are the key to unlocking the meaning of human existence. I’m not talking about gifts you wrap and unwrap, but the small acts of service from one person to another that make us feel more human, more at home.