Every one of us has a different definition of success and is chasing one thing or another hoping to feel fulfilled. Do you look back at your life from 5 or 10 years ago and notice how you used to fret over the stuff that was not important? It is often the case that we tend to spend the bulk of our time and energy on things that are not worth it and by the time we realize it, it is too late.
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What does it mean to have a Meaningful life?
The definition of a meaningful life differs from person to person. That is because every human being has a different hierarchy of values and priorities. What is important to one person may not be as important to another person.
Living a meaningful life ultimately means discerning what is important to you and being true to yourself in making the choices you make along your journey. For example, if your highest value is family or spending time with your kids, meaningful life for you would mean that these values are prioritized over anything else like long working hours in the office that take your time away from family.
In the end, the first step to the journey to a meaningful life is to realize what are your top priorities and top values and be prepared to make sacrifices along the way to fulfill these priorities and values.
Here are 7 ways to help guide you towards living a meaningful life
1) Live in the present moment
We put a lot of unnecessary stress worrying about the future and making up bad scenarios that would never come to fruition. When we are not worrying about the future we are thinking about the what-if scenario from our past. The fact of the matter is you cannot change what happened in the past and you cannot control what will happen in the future. While it is good to think of the future in a constructive way but all you have right now is the present moment to live it as best as you can.
2) Don't run after money
Money is very important but is also one of the biggest misplaced value that most of us have been a victim to. The thing with money is that there is always someone who has more than you. Studies suggest that how much money you make is not directly proportional to your happiness after a certain amount of money. While you can always make more money through moonlighting or working endless hours in a job that you hate, the key to a meaningful life is to realize at what point you are sacrificing your other higher priority values for money.
3) Foster Compassion
Having compassion for other human beings is a big factor in bonding people together. While we tend to cry over our neighbor having a fancier car than ours, there are people who would kill to have half as much as you have. I did a project for school called "One act of kindness a day" and I noticed that I became more empathetic and compassionate towards people that were having a tougher time and had a greater appreciation of the gifts that I have been given. So the next time you see a homeless person on a cold day, try offering them a warm beverage and it might make the day for the both of you.
4) Choose the right friends (for you)
Meaningful lives are not lived in a bubble and the people you surround yourself with play a huge part in how your journey shapes towards a meaningful life. Often times we try to impress the people who don't care about us and that ends up making us feel bad about ourselves. Choose friends that are good, virtuous people and help inspire you to live a meaningful life. If your family is important to you then stop hanging out with someone who is cheating on their spouse because their value doesn't align with yours.
5) Find a hobby
Sometimes it is impossible to avoid stress. Whether it is personal problems like financial struggles, health-related issues, or something related to work like a looming deadline on a project, we need to unwind and make sure we find time to relax. There is no better way to reduce your stress than to work on a small personal project or a hobby that helps you forget about everything else and just be yourself doing an activity that you love.
6) Don't hold grudges
When you hold grudges, more often than not you are doing more harm to your mental well-being than the other person. Often times we are offended by something that someone said and without even them knowing we build up scenarios in our minds about how to get back at them or to cut them off from our lives. All you have to do is to give that person the benefit of doubt thinking they didn't mean whatever they said or didn't have malicious intent behind their actions. Holding anger or grudge towards someone would never allow your mind to be at peace.
7) Live Simply
In this age of social media, it is very easy to get distracted and clutter our life with materialistic possessions that we don't need. If your friend bought a home theatre system, it doesn't mean you need one as well. Just because Apple launched a new iPhone doesn't mean that you have to buy the new phone even when your old phone is working fine.
I personally find that building memories with friends and families is a very important part of having a meaningful life. Rather than spending all your money buying stuff that you don't need, try to save the money for a trip to Italy or France or any other place that you wanted to go to. Declutter your house by donating or selling stuff that you don't think you need and turn it into a place that you can relax at.
Living a meaningful life is an ongoing journey and very rarely you see someone who has figured it all out. Every person has a unique life journey and their own problems and we get so lost in the day-to-day activities that we don't pay attention to what is important to live a meaningful life. You don't want to wait until you are 60 years old and then realize you spent all your life chasing stuff that didn't matter and didn't find the time for the values you held dearest to your heart.