Within my professional field and those related, especially with the emergence of the very popular positive psychology field, the pursuit of happiness is of paramount importance and finding more happiness is what makes us feel better about who we are and the life we are leading.
More research that I have read tends to suggest that finding meaning in our lives, or leading a more meaningful life is what results in our lives being more fulfilling and satisfactory. I recall watching a fascinating TED Talk video by Emily Esfahani Smith entitled “There is More to Happiness than Being Happy”
In it, she states “While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning. Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. It connects the past to the present to the future.”
I love that, and I love the way she talks about serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you – topics I touch upon here today as I write about leading a more meaningful life.
The negative experiences we have may well reduce our happiness, however they may increase the meaning in life. Life’s hard knocks, painful experiences and emotional turbulence can help us build character and teach us some tough lessons that result in us being more compassionate, build resilience and lead us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the human condition in general. Auschwitz Concentration Camp survivor, Viktor Frankl, in his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ describes how he focused each day on finding meaning in his existence and in the future he would find when the nightmare was over. It is a beautiful example and inspiring read.
Feeling that what you’re doing and how you are living has meaning, and life is meaningful in a way that matters to you can impact your life greatly. It makes the prospect of a new day very exciting.
Today then, I have written a number of ways that you can lead a more meaningful life and add meaning to your life so that you look forward to each new day, consider applying some of these…..
1. Take Snapshots of Your Meaningful Life:
In Annie M. Gordon’s brilliant article “Take a Picture Today, Feel Happy Tomorrow for Greater Good” she makes a number of suggestions to capture everyday events today that you’ll be happy you did in the future as a means of recognising your meaningful existence; here are a couple of her ideas:
a) Take a regular photo – no matter what you are doing, and whether it is daily or weekly, take a photo. Those 365 photos make up a yearbook. This helps us find greater meaning in our lives by keeping track of aspects of our lives that get brushed over or forgotten about due to the rigours of busy modern living.
b) Capture Context in Your Photos – that is, don’t just zoom in on yourself and crop out the rest – keep the full environment in. Further down the line when you reflect and revisit, the environment and context become just as interesting as the subject of the picture.
c) Start a Day in the Life album – on a particular day, take a picture of what you are doing every hour. A typical day in your life may not seem fascinating now, but it will be in future years.
d) Keep a Gratitude Journal – at the end of each day, write down 3-5 things that happened that day that you are grateful for. Enjoy reviewing the positive stuff that happens each day. (Here’s a great article on this subject if you wish to delve deeper: The Science of Gratitude, it’s Benefits and Ways to Express it)
It’s so easy to blast through life each day without pausing to think of it’s meaning.
2. Recognise and Focus Upon What’s Important:
Know what’s important to you and your life. Have a good think about and then write down your top 5 things that represent how you want to live life and that are essential to your happiness. Have the list on your phone or pinned up in your work area and see it every day and do what you need to live accordingly – If “family” was written on the list, then choose to spend more time with them, if it included “laughter” then work out ways to laugh more, if you want to be healthier then consider taking up a suitable hobby.
There is no set way to do this and no clearly defined approach. Pin point what’s important to you according to you and your own criteria and then start to organise your life according to these priorities.
3. Engage Your Passion:
When you pursue things that you are passionate about, life is worth living. It is why I chose to be a hypnotherapist and a teacher of my subject. There are so many facets of what I do all day every day that I have an inherent passion for and that drives me and gives me meaning and joy. When you work at something you love doing, it creates such a sense of joy, fulfilment and meaning that I think this point speaks for itself and requires no further instruction.
Here is a good take on this notion to dig deeper into if you wish: How To Love What You Do.
4. Discover Your Life’s Purpose:
What is the reason you get out of bed each day? What do you stand for? What do you value the dearest in life?
Do you wish to serve your fellow humans? Do you wish to create art of some kind? Do you wish to contribute to the advancement of life in some way? Or perhaps you have simpler notions of a sense of purpose? If you want to make your life meaningful, you need to discover your sense of purpose and know what you wish to do with your life in some way. It’s tough to set a meaningful direction for yourself without knowing what sort of purpose is fuelling it.
Read this article to go deeper into this subject: What Is Your Life Purpose? 5 Ways To Discover It Today.
5. Be Aware of and Express Your Self:
Each day at regular intervals, tune in to yourself, be aware of the thoughts you are thinking, the feelings you are experiencing and how your experience of life is at that moment. Be as mindful as you can often. Reflect upon your actions and recognise if you’d strayed off course with life and consider ways to make sure you drive yourself towards it each day. Learning self-awareness skills or mindful meditation are great ways to increase your self-awareness.
Get comfortable expressing who you are as you develop your self-awareness and establish your identity. There is no other you. Be authentic about who you are.
If you are not aware of yourself enough to recognise what you do each day, and if you are not expressing yourself effectively and being your true self, you may struggle to really experience a sense of meaning in your life. Creating a meaningful existence is a journey that never ends for most and requires ongoing consideration and application. It is not something you will discover in a finite way; you need to maintain your meaningful approach to life by being aware of and expressing yourself effectively.
You’ll need to adapt as aspects of life you find to be meaningful today may not be so in a year’s time. Keep on top and recognise how you develop with self-awareness and expression.
6. People and Experiences Over Stuff:
We live in a material world and many people focus upon buying more stuff. Consider carefully what you spend your money on, and when possible choose to invest in life experiences and spending time with people that bring you joy and contribute to your sense of meaning such as close friends and family. You’ll be happier and more fulfilled in a wide number of ways as a result.
This article will help with this point: Ways to Reduce A Materialistic Lifestyle.
7. Be Compassionate:
Live with compassion towards yourself and those who you encounter. This quote from the Dalai Lama sums it up beautifully:
“One must be compassionate to one’s self before external compassion” – Dalai Lama.
For many, compassion alone gives life much meaning.
Read this article for more on self-compassion: Why is self-compassion important? And how to advance it with self-hypnosis.
8. Give Back in Some Way:
In line with your passions, value, sense of purpose and what’s important to you, find some way you can give back to the world. When we give back, we also honour our sense of purpose in other ways. Find a way of doing this and you’ll make your life more meaningful. Still focus on your own well-being, but giving back to others will give your life more purpose and meaning.
Focus on what gives your life meaning and fulfils you. That way, you have an easier life to manage, you’ll be more productive, you’ll be energised and creative – consider ways in which you can simplify your life.
Attempting to do all of these things at once may seem like a challenge, so pick one area at a time and integrate it into your life and gradually bring in other ideas. Remember the old adage that life is about the journey, not the destination. Do not lose track of your day-to-day existence – that is life. Apply what you can from this article while paying attention to your life and you’ll find more meaning and purpose and it’ll result in a more joyous and satisfying life too.
Have some of these themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist who is looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book, it’ll help you live a more meaningful life!