How to Create a More Meaningful Life
What leads to meaning in life? And what do you do to create more meaning?
What is the definition of meaning?
When we talk about meaning in psychology, we generally refer to a significant or valuable explanation for why something happened or matters. This sense of meaning contributes to greater well-being. Although there is some agreement on what leads to meaning in life, the definition of meaning depends on whom you ask.
How is meaning different from happiness?
Both happiness and meaning come from interacting with other people. But meaning, in particular, comes with caring for others. For example, parenting contributes to more meaning but tends to contribute to more happiness.
Meaning also often comes from experiencing challenges, while happiness does not. Doing hard things often generates a sense of meaning—we feel like we have done something important or meaningful.
Lastly, our identities can contribute to more meaning. For example, we may have had to overcome difficulties—difficulties that made us who we are. This sense of story about how we came to be who we are is often meaningful to us.
What situations are meaningful?
Here are some examples of meaning in situations that many people experience.
- The birth of a child
- Getting an important job
- The death of a loved one
- Divorce or relationship breakup
- Losing a job
- A near-death experience
It’s interesting to see how meaning may more often come from difficulty than ease.
How to create meaning in your life
Here are some ways to make meaning in your life
- Volunteering or helping someone
- Starting an important project
- Pursuing something challenging
- Expressing yourself
- Learning something new
There are so many ways to create more meaning in your life.
Create meaning with kindness
One of the best ways to cultivate life purpose is by giving, being kind, compassionate, and generous–these actions can help you feel more aligned with your values.
So, ask yourself, what acts of kindness could you engage in? Your random acts of kindness could be as simple as sharing a thoughtful word or thank you. Or you could do a task for someone, like mowing their lawn, getting them groceries, or babysitting their kids. You can also be kind creatively, for example, by giving someone a hand-made card or picture.
You could also do community service or join a working bee or beach clean-up. When you give, you can start to feel that you are providing something that helps others, and that sense gives your life meaning too.
Regardless of your chosen strategy, kindness is a great way to create more meaning in your life.
What is already meaningful?
Remember to notice the meaning that is already in your life. Maybe you find meaning in that one flower that somehow grew from between the cracks of the pavement. Or perhaps when looking over rolling hills that seem to stretch forever. Or maybe you find meaning in spending time with your pets. All sorts of little things can provide meaning if you take the time to notice them.
If you use the tips provided here, you can create more meaning in your life.
Sharon is a New Zealand-qualified Health & Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer. Sharon was awarded the Health & Wellness Coach of the Year 2022 by The Health Coaches Australia & New Zealand Association.
She focuses on you as a whole person, mind, and body. And understands how your physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social dimensions play an essential role in your life and wellness. Using powerful Coaching techniques, evidence-based Lifestyle Medicine practices and Personal Training, her approach guarantees you’ll gain greater health, more resiliency, a stronger body, and next-level support.
From individual coaching and personal training to team training and workshops, Sharon is passionate about helping more people to find fun, creative ways to be and stay -healthy.