Short on time? For the key points about finding meaning, stick to the bold text and the conclusion.
Why are we here? Why are you here?
Do you have a clear purpose? Or are you still exploring the meaning of life and your mission on this planet? Knowing why you do what you do won’t just make you happier but also more productive.
And did you know that finding purpose and meaning in life might be the single most important factor for a long and happy life? More important than healthy food, plenty of exercise and avoiding bad habits?
Crazy, right? But let’s figure out how to make life more meaningful and fulfilling.
Finding meaning in life:
Tip 1: Explore your Ikigai
Do you sometimes lack the motivation to get out of bed or go to bed? That’s because you don’t have a clear purpose or goal in life — or a horrible hangover. When you don’t have anything to wake up to, why wake up, right? Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again. It’s time to explore your ikigai and find meaning in life.
Ikigai is originally a Japanese term meaning “value of life”. Finding small joys each and every day is what this is all about.
The easiest way? Finding your passion. But not just any passion. It has to tick several boxes. Four to be exact.
Your ikigai is something …
- you love,
- the world needs,
- you are good at,
- you can get paid for.
If you find an activity that combines all four pillars, you’ve found meaning. Your purpose on the planet is clear.
Sometimes, you don’t even need to tick all boxes. Voluntary work won’t earn you any money but any activity that makes a difference to other people may be enough to make your life more meaningful. More about this in the next point.
Find an activity you love. Find out if people need it. Become good at it. Get paid. It sounds like money twitter but this is how you find your ikigai, or your purpose in life.
Tip 2: Sharing with others is fulfilling
Sharing is caring. People who care about others are happier. And most importantly, they lead more meaningful lives.
Volunteering is an excellent way to find meaning.  Moreover, donating your time, money or talent allows you to explore different skill sets. Many organisations will be happy to receive your talent and you’ll be able to hone your skills and live a more meaningful life.
If you’re not sure what to volunteer for, find an injustice that makes your hair stand up. I hate bad online courses on Twitter, for instance. So I volunteer to write course reviews. It’s not going to be my goal in life, but I’ll be exploring ideas and helping other people to develop skills that will hopefully lead to a life full of purpose for them.
Why sharing is great to find meaning
Sharing helps you discover new ideas and meet new people. When you give more than you ask for and you find people with a similar mindset, you’ll be surrounded by positivity. You’ll find a community.
Communities give meaning to life. If you look at the places with the longest life expectancy, the so-called blue zones, community life is an important factor. Caring for others and sharing are vital. They make for a life worth living.
What’s one thing you can do now to interact better with your community?
Finding your purpose in life is as easy as sharing with others. Find your community and everything will have more meaning.
Tip 3: Find your flow to discover meaning
Do you have an active community life and some sort of ikigai but you still feel like something’s missing? You might not experience enough flow moments.
Flow is an optimal state of performance and happiness. When you’re in the flow, your skills and the challenge are perfectly aligned. You become unaware of time, self and others; much like a bear in hibernation, but shorter.
You can induce more flow by considering these questions:
- What did you love as a child? Were you a vivid painter, an adventurous tree climber or fervent reader of books?
- When do you feel lost in time? Was it while running, in a deep conversation or when you were exploring the depths of Wikipedia?
- Where does your attention go on social media? Are you always watching paintings, reading the latest tech updates or exploring new fitness trends?
Flow is almost synonymous to purpose. When you’re working with a deep sense of meaning and a clear goal in mind, you’ll find flow. No doubt about it.
Flow is a perfect measure of meaning in life. More flow moments indicate a clear goal. Finding flow-inducing activities also increases your changes of finding purpose in work and life.
Still struggling to find meaning?
Don’t worry if you’re still looking for meaning and purpose. I bet at least 90% of the people around you are. Of course, most of them have good camouflage, but underneath it, I know there’s a lot of uncertainty.
So don’t feel bad about it. You’ll find your purpose. The best advice I can give now is to start creating. Explore what’s inside you. But stick to one thing for a while. Learn to say no to a great influx of new ideas.
Start writing, designing, filming… Maybe, you can even start sharing your ideas. Once you find your community, life will make more sense.
Don’t wait. Start now. Your purpose in life is just behind the corner.
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Sources and further reading/watching about finding meaning
- Marta Zaraska. The Washington Post — https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/boosting-our-sense-of-meaning-in-life-is-an-often-overlooked-longevity-ingredient/2020/12/31/84871d32-29d4-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html?
- Amy Morin. VeryWellMind — https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-finding-your-purpose-in-life-4164689
- Jeremy Adam Smith. Greater Good Magazine — https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_find_your_purpose_in_life
- Yukari Mitsuhashi. Worklife BBC — https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20170807-ikigai-a-japanese-concept-to-improve-work-and-life
- Cheryl Maguire. Nirandfar — https://www.nirandfar.com/how-to-find-motivation/?
- Daryl R. Van Tongeren, Jeffrey D. Green, Don E. Davis, Joshua N. Hook & Timothy L. Hulsey (2016) Prosociality enhances meaning in life, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11:3, 225-236, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2015.1048814