The Dalai Lama describes the meaning of life this way – “…. the purpose of our existence is to seek happiness, to seek a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.” Striving for these things is part of living a meaningful life but it can be difficult finding ways to put it into action.
Many people chase monetary wealth, possessions and success to try and give their lives meaning. The accumulation of ‘things’ may bring happiness and satisfaction for a while but this feeling tends to be only fleeting. Much has been written on this subject and many authors agree that there are five dimensions that make up a meaningful life. When these become an integral part of life, we will start to experience more happiness and satisfaction than ever before. They are:
Focus on developing meaningful relationships with friends, associates and family. Deepen those you already have and form new ones with people you have yet to meet. Humans are social animals and we feel most satisfied when we interact on a deep and meaningful level with others.
Smile; be friendly; seek out interesting people; hang out with people of all ages; forgive; don’t hold grudges; be open and honest; be interested in other people; be a good listener.
These are things I try to demonstrate on a daily basis not only with my husband and family, but also my colleagues and friends.
It’s hard to have any sort of quality of life if you don’t enjoy good health. Focus on feeling really well rather than just being free from illness. Have a positive attitude towards your health and well-being. Make wellness your focus.
Eat a balanced, natural diet that is mostly plant foods; eat small meals, more often; limit processed foods – the body was not designed for them; drink plenty of water to keep well hydrated; be active every day; get outside into the fresh air and sunshine as often as you can; take time regularly for recreation and relaxation; make time for reflection; sleep for 6 to 8 hours every night; maintain a positive “I can” attitude.
When I started concentrating on looking after myself and putting that as a priority, I felt a lot better, not only physically but mentally. This improvement translated into other parts of my life. It’s like the healthier I am, the better off my life is.
Aim to be more and learn more every day so that your life becomes a constant process of growth. Change how you think of yourself – you are more than your job or your place in the family. Be more mindful as you go through your day – mindless activity gives us a narrow view of ourselves. Let go of the importance of the outcome and focus more on the process, the journeys, of life. Encourage and explore your creative side.
Avoid comparisons with other people – they are on a different journey to you. Focus on the things you have control over and let the rest slide past. Don’t let your past affect your present; forget what happened in the past and focus on happiness in the present. Approach problems as a challenge to be overcome; they are just part of life. Don’t look to others for your happiness – you are the one responsible for it.
This was a big one for me. I have had to allow myself to move on and look forward and not dwell on what was. I have also learned to only rely on myself. No one else is in charge of my life but me. Instead of focusing my energies on fixing the past, I now focus on what I can do for tomorrow. I also hold myself accountable for what happens and no one else. These two changes have made me much happier. I now always look forward and never back.
Research has shown that humans feel the most fulfilled when they are contributing to others. Be generous with your time and talents; contribution doesn’t have to be in the form of cash. Give friendship, love and caring. Practice random acts of kindness with no thought of reward or recognition. Smile at people you pass.
For me, I try to do one thing a day at minimum that helps someone. It could be holding open a door or passing on advice or just a plain smile. It feels amazing!
Work out what you are passionate about and follow that dream. Spend time often in what you are passionate about. Explore the possibilities.
This is a big one. Be true to yourself and what you desire and don’t let anyone try to take that away from you. You deserve to live the life you want. I went through some family stuff where I had to hold my ground until things blew over and as difficult as it was at the time, I am very glad I stayed true to my passion. My life is 10x better than before and my family is also just as happy.
By getting these 5 dimensions in place in your life , like me, you can enjoy the benefits and rewards of living a meaningful life. Continue to explore and extend each dimension as you travel your life’s road and realize the satisfaction that living with meaning can bring. Life is a journey but make the most of it!
So, do you have a meaningful life? Is there anything stated here that you are missing?
PS: Don’t forget to check out the new “Share Your Voice” section on the PET homepage.