Seven reasons why
How often do you
ask yourself whether your life
has meaning or not?
Meaning matters a lot, but you probably only rarely ask the direct question. It is more likely that you experience a range of emotions underpinned by the meaning in your life. For example, when life is good, and you are making a difference, you might instinctively feel that your life has meaning. Conversely, boredom and listlessness can be symptoms of a meaningless life.
And whether life is good or bad at the moment, you probably wouldn’t describe it as “meaningful” or “meaningless.” Instead, you might use words such as “happy” or “downhearted” to describe your life.
However, if you take a few minutes to consider your feelings, you will probably find they boil down to the degree to which your life is meaningful.
Meaning is central to our lives, even if you don’t recognise it. Meaning is derived from and impacts your work, relationships, happiness, health and more.
So, read on to discover seven reasons why meaning matters and why you should focus on your search for meaning in your life.
1. You thrive and flourish
Instead of leading a life of ‘quiet desperation, you awaken your’ secret sorrows’ which fear or peer pressure have forced you to keep hidden.
This does not mean you stay in the same role all your life. These days such a thing is a rarity. You will work on a project basis or live a portfolio life. However, your sense of purpose and meaning will drive those projects and portfolio elements. There will be no anxiety about moving on from an assignment. Your sense of purpose and drive for meaning will empower you to find or create your next role.
2. Your tolerance increases
Pain is inevitable, unfortunately. However, suffering is not. Suffering comes about when you fail to let go of the pain. That’s because you link your emotional distress to the story behind your pain, creating a drama with you at its centre.
However, you don’t need drama if you live a meaningful life. Letting go of the link between your pain and the story becomes more manageable.
In earlier times, religion and myth provided the meaning that helped people deal with suffering. However, replacing religion with rational science has left a void. Therefore, we must develop our sense of meaning and purpose where religion no longer does this for us.
It is worth noting that service, compassion and pain relief were central to many religions. Today, many find meaning in their lives through the same activities.
3. You become reslient
You cannot know when the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ will turn in your direction, hitting you where it hurts and throwing you off course.
Unfortunately, the first years of the 2020s are an unhappy example.
Ask yourself who fares best in such a situation. Will it be the person whose life has meaning and purpose, who knows why they are here and thus possesses physical and psychological resilience?
Or will it be the person whose meaningless life lacks direction and energy, leaving them susceptible to crumbling under life’s curveballs?
We need both physical and mental resilience. A sense of purpose and meaning will strengthen your psyche, stimulating your resilience.
4. You live with integrity
A sense of integrity comes from living a life of meaning and purpose. You understand yourself. You have a defined set of values to live by and know your strengths and weaknesses.
As a result, you become an integrated and complete individual, at peace with yourself. You will have worked out what is enough for you and, importantly, understand that you are enough.
And so, you will live a life of integrity, resistant to the social and economic pressures that can compromise you and leave you open to manipulation by others and fearful of making mistakes.
5. You replace confusion with direction
You are likely to have a clear idea, in moral and ethical terms at least, of where you are going. You may take many turns in getting there, practically. However, the setbacks you may encounter as you turn your North Star vision into action will seem more like opportunities than obstacles.
You avoid the morale-sapping passivity and stagnation of a meaningless life by adopting explicit goals central to a life of meaning.
Goals can become a rod for our backs when we destroy ourselves to achieve them. However, purposeful goals are like waymarkers on our journey, points to pass through rather than the finishing post.
6. You ditch sadness and build happiness
Chasing happiness is unlikely to be successful. However, happiness, or at least contentment, can result from living a life of meaning and purpose.
Boredom is a common side effect of an ‘existential vacuum’, a life void of meaning. With boredom comes unhappiness or despair, anti-social behaviour such as aggression and addictive but ultimately wasteful pursuits. The antidote is to live meaningfully.
7. You learn about and embrace change
You are more likely to accept change when you lead a life of meaning and purpose. Change is inevitable. However, for many, change is a threat and discomfort. Change engenders fear and an urge to retrench.
Alternatively, a life of purpose and meaning is one where you accept, learn about, implement, and lead change. As a result, you become a change-maker who values change and uses change to make a difference.
Leading a meaningful and purposeful life builds an inner toughness that helps you survive and thrive in the world. So, does meaning evolve and emerge over time, or can we take steps to bring meaning into our lives?
Here at Crazy for Change, we believe the latter is possible. We can help our physical bodies grow, develop and stay healthy through exercise and diet. Similarly, we can build our sense of purpose and meaning through practices including reflection, conversation, habituation, storytelling and cultivating constructive relationships.
You can read more about how we can achieve a meaningful life and the mistakes we make on the journey in related articles, which you can download from crazyforchange.com.
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