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How to find meaning in life? Engage in worthwhile pursuits
Finding meaning in life has always been of paramount importance. Human beings have contemplated their existence since the beginning of time. The primary focus of our ancestors was to find food (preferably without being killed in the process), find shelter, and a community to interact with. Fast forward to our modern era, with our basic needs taken care of, our main focus has become trying to find meaning in life.
The feeling that one’s life has meaning can come from any number of things, such as committing ourselves to the pursuit of academic knowledge, focusing on doing our job to the best of our ability, committing ourselves to help others by doing some volunteer work or dedicating ourselves to raising a family. All of these are examples of worthwhile pursuits, but the important point is that the actual purpose does not really matter. What matters a great deal more is that there is a purpose.
“Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it because you can’t ever really know the meaning of your life. And you don’t need to. The only thing you need to know is that every life has meaning, whether it lasts one hundred years or one hundred seconds. Every life changes the world in its own way. So, don’t take it for granted. But don’t take it too seriously either. Don’t postpone what you want. Don’t leave anything misunderstood. Make sure the people you care about know you care about them.”
Life can be hard and finding contentment and meaning in what you do can help you withstand the innumerable hardships of existence. A 2019 study conducted by the University College London revealed that feeling your life is worthwhile could have a positive impact on your physical and mental health and also influence your economic and social standing. Ultimately, the pursuit of happiness and finding your life purpose go hand in hand.
How to find meaning in life? Go on a road trip
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
Why do so many people fail to achieve their dreams? There could be many valid reasons, but failing to achieve your dream because it is going to be hard is not a good reason. Nothing is easy, so expect some pain and consider the possibility that sometimes hurdles come your way to test your resolve, teach you some lessons and build your resilience.
Imagine you are in your car on your way to Pleasant Ville which represents your ultimate dream destination. You put in the coordinates and drive along quite happily until you realize you are going in the wrong direction after taking a wrong turn. There is no need to panic, the GPS will re-direct you to Pleasant Ville, albeit using a different route. This little detour cost you some time, but you are now more focused on the road, determined not to take another wrong turn or to miss the next exit. You are getting closer to your destination and will get there as long as you stay focused.
Now, imagine that you are sharing the road with three other drivers and you all want to go to Pleasant Ville. Driver 1 is the fast-and-furious type who starts his engine and immediately speeds-off, impatient to get to his destination as quickly as possible. But, after taking a wrong turn and finding himself in the wrong place, Driver 1 is now annoyed, discouraged, and disheartened by losing his early lead (who said that this was a race anyway). Driver 1 returns home feeling defeated.
Driver 2 is the are-we-there-yet-type of driver who drives around not paying attention to hid GPS and turns around in circles thinking are we there yet? Driver 2 eventually gets disheartened by driving around in circles not knowing where he is going. He also returns home feeling defeated.
Driver 3 is the zig-zag-type of driver. Before arriving at his destination Driver 3 decides that a different place is better than where he was originally going, so he changes the coordinates, again and again, never arriving anywhere.
Driver 4 is the smart-and-steady-type: focused, and patient, he pays attention to the road and doesn’t fret if he takes a wrong turn, because it doesn’t matter which road you take, there is rarely only a single road that leads to your destination. Eventually, driver 4 arrives at Pleasant Ville and when he gets there, he realizes that it was worth all the time, effort, sweat, and tears and rejoices in the happiness of the moment.
I know what type of driver I want to emulate. Which one are you?
Where to find meaning in life?
You will not find your life purpose delivered to your doorstep and waiting for you inside a box wrapped with a nice pink ribbon. You will have to go out to find it, it could be hidden underneath a rock or hidden deep inside you, and it will take some effort and some courage to unearth. In this situation, think of yourself as an explorer.
Explorers are a special type of human being. They have physical endurance, mental toughness, abundant determination, and willpower, a deep feeling of purpose, they have faith in their pursuit and live every day with the conviction of their Quest.