In this article, I am going to teach some simple ways to live a life full of meaning, something that many people in today’s society struggle with. Often nihilism and pessimism permeate the mind and some find it difficult just to wake up in the world, saying to themselves, “Why bother, nothing matters.” There are many reasons for this sentiment, from spending most of their lives behind a screen to self-isolation to life being difficult, to trauma, and many other possible reasons.
People today trade a life of meaning for a life of validation, we can see this on social media whereas more often than not, people fake living a perfect life for likes and comments. Other times, people will vent and rant about how horrible life is, and often (especially if they aren’t popular) it will get glossed over or rude and negative comments will be left.
Yet another issue is that often people will settle for buying things, rather than having experiences that enrich their lives and can lend to giving it meaning. Consumerism has played a large role in having people attempt to fill their inner void with things, and also in the case of seeking validation rather than meaning. People will go into serious debt just to show something off online and have people comment about wishing they had said item. This leads to my first point;
Accept yourself don’t seek others’ acceptance.
There’s an old saying that stands true, “You have to love yourself first before you can love another.” If someone genuinely loves themselves, they don’t need to seek out validation from others because they’re self-validated. If it’s purely attention you seek, you’re by proxy looking for validation from others, as their attention is your validation.
Generally speaking, seeking attention and validation speak to a lack of gaining those things as a child, and as we know they are called our formative years for a reason. This doesn’t have to bleed into our adulthood however, you can learn to love yourself at any age. Once we realize that we are the only “us,” in the entire world, a one and done, we are each an epically rare individual, you begin to realize your worth. A painting is only valuable because it is the only one in existence, the same is said for cars and most other extremely valuable things.
Learn to accept then love everything that is intrinsically you, even down to quirks and things that separate you from everyone else. Life itself is incredibly rare, as out of all of the countless planets we have found, we’ve found no life but what we have here on earth, and you are a rarity among that. Learn your worth, know who and what you are, accept yourself, then love the bloody hell out of who and what you are. Low self-worth is the key to a miserable existence!
Live in the moment
Often times we have unresolved issues from our past, or we worry too much about our future, but neither of them lends to you being happy and having meaning in your life today. You cannot erase your past, nor can you tell what the future holds in store for you, one is done and gone and one hasn’t yet happened. Living in the past creates depression and resentment, living in the future creates stress and unnecessary worry, both of which ruin the life you’re actually living right now.
Why would anyone want to ruin today for the sake of yesterday (already gone) or tomorrow (not promised), meanwhile the today that is ruined is the regret of your future. If you live in the now, this moment, you can still grow and learn for tomorrow, while you experience now, live now, experience life now. When you’re in the moment you’re consciously engaged in conversations and activities with others, minus the baggage of the past or concern for the future interfering.
To live in the moment is to be present, to be mindful of what and who is around you, and to have a mind receptive to anything that might provide a new and welcoming experience. Society at large is wholly absent from the reality around them, replaced with screens and online interactions instead of real ones, the moments in life often pass them by, for what I mentioned earlier, validation.
Living for experiences
As I mentioned, too often people try to fill the void within them with objects, sometimes for validation, sometimes just to attempt to be like others, but in the end, experiences are what truly fill that void. To live is to experience the ups and downs, the highs and lows of everyday life, and adding to life are experiences that we choose to freely enter into. Experiences that add to our life are;
- Spending time with loved ones, wholly disconnected from anything but that time.
- Concerts, movies, museums, galleries, special events.
- Time spent on hobbies and interests.
- Time spent learning and growing.
- Building relationships with friends, relatives, significant others, and in general, loved ones.
- Creative ventures.
- Engaging in our passions.
- Participating in something of a religious or spiritual nature.
It is not enough to simply be, we should be doing! It isn’t enough to merely exist, we must learn to truly live!
I hear a lot of people are willing to die for something, but how many are willing to live for it?
I often hear people saying that quote in regards to something they are passionate about, but if everyone died for that passion, it wouldn’t exist anymore. Is it their will that they love it out of existence? If you love something or someone, would you rather live the longest possible life to be with it/them, or would you rather die and lose any semblance of time to spend with them?
…worse still, if it is a loved one, your death would irrevocably change them, cause them pain, grief, and could, in turn, harm them more than if you simply lived. Living for something, finding what that something is, and putting your whole into it, is a great way to find meaning in your life.
Living to build your name and legacy
Find what you’re good at and monetize it… this way you’ll never have to work a day in your life!
Humans have an amazing potential locked inside of them, capable of great things beyond imagination, creativity being one of them. If necessity is the mother of invention, creativity is the father of invention, and the human species is full of creativity and the inventive spirit. We get these traits from our innate curiosity, we wonder how things are and if they could be made better all of the time, and if we put action behind that creativity, we then turn our curiosity into a business.
Find what sets your soul on fire, your passion, what makes you happy, then turn it into something lucrative. You’ll find a world of meaning in doing what you love as your occupation, that’s why I became a therapist and professional artist and I haven’t regretted it one day. In doing that, you’ll also build an enduring legacy that will grant your works and name a semblance of immortality. Your life will never be the same and will be full of more meaning than you could imagine!
You will never find more reward in your spirit, mind, or life, than when you engage in helping others. People, animals, the planet, and all points in-between are worthy endeavors, as are seeking justice where there is injustice, visiting the elderly and ill in hospitals, working in a soup kitchen, etcetera. Doing something for others, without any desire to receive something in return, nurtures our inner being and helps us to feel things deeper.
When you help others, your life is given more meaning, life feels more fulfilling, and you begin living surrounded by love. Helping others enriches our lives and should be a part of each of our practices, inasmuch as we can possibly do without causing a strain on ourselves. If you’ve struggled to find meaning and purpose in your life, try helping others, give it 30 days, and then see how you feel.
The importance of exercising cannot be overstated, from our physical to our mental well-being, taking time out of the day, just for you, just so you can improve your health and mind, is imperative. Exercise helps us destress, it builds our health and physical bodies, and it is time set aside just for you to develop and take care of yourself. Another benefit of exercise is that it will keep you more mobile and active into your advanced age.
Meet new people
Since the prevalence of the internet, it’s become easy for even the most shut-in individual to meet new people and form friendships, even from thousands of miles away. Sure, you might have to wade through scores of people to meet new ones you click with, however, meeting new people is rewarding and greatly helps to add meaning to our lives. Meeting new people broadens our horizons and helps us to learn new perspectives and gain new people to talk to about life in general.
Making friends is as easy as a search on google for websites to meet others, or meeting others outside at a place of shared interest (such as a record store or park). There are also thousands of groups to meet others who share a common interest, you just have to do a little work and be open to getting to know someone. Meeting new friends can almost immediately add value and meaning to your life!