The 5 Dimensions to a Meaningful Life

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:

  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Growth
  • Contribution
  • Passions


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.


The 5 Dimensions to a Meaningful Life — 19 Comments

  1. “Focus on feeling really well rather than just being free from illness.” That’s a really important one. I think a lot of people think, “well, I’m not sick” and so they’re fine, but being not sick is not the same as being really healthy. That dalai lama is a clever dude.

  2. I enjoyed this post, and this philosophical topic. You know, the health and relationship parts are really vital and I think are what are truly the most essential.

    In terms of wealth, I don’t see it as a way to chase material things or as a way to “win”. Rather, I look at resources as a way to help me put myself and those I love in a position to have time to enjoy relationships and maintain health. It’s sort of a cycle the way I see it, with heath, relationships and wealth feeding off one another. But again, wealth for the sake of sheer competitiveness isn’t my big picture motivator. Situationally it might be in certain cases for some of us (me too), but in the grand scheme of things it is not important. Money doesn’t make us “rich”.

    Growth, contribution, and passion seem to be great to have in one’s life. Personally, it took me some years to figure it out, but contribution is such a nice part of life. Doing the little things (and big things) to help others lives be better, and doing it genuinely without overt expectations of anything back, can actually be rewarding (even if again not looking for something specific back).

    To those that have all 5 dimensions running smoothly, that’s truly great.

    • Very well written. I totally agree. It is a cycle thing and each dimension feeds off of the others. I too find that money brings opportunity and support to those in my life and my own life but it isn’t what makes my world go around. I am rich because of the different dimensions in my life.

      I too have taken some to grow and find my passion. The great thing is how you feel once you have found it. Your life just seems to have more purpose and you often enjoy your day to day grind more.

      Like I told Anthony, I think many of us are working on at least one dimension and that’s ok. We just need to keep trying. We also need to take notice of the journey we take to get there. That is rewarding in itself.

  3. Beautifully presented post! These five dimensions absolutely make up a meaningful life. What’s more, it pays to have all of them at once. However, this is where the challenge may come for lots of people. For example, if you had four of them, but were lacking meaningful relationships, life might prove to be difficult.

    Otherwise, having all five dimensions are the hallmark of a very meaningful and fulfilling life.

  4. Great post! I think “contribute” is the one I may be missing – does babysitting my nieces count? 🙂 I sometimes feel sorry myself and think “Why should I help others?”, but, frankly that’s the best time to do it – so I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself!

  5. Great tips Miss T! The one that really struck me was the growth section. I’ve heard many of these sayings before, but now am really believing the words. It is about the journey, we are responsible for our happiness, and focus on what we can control and let the rest slide. I should print this for my frig. Thanks!

  6. Great points Miss T. I enjoyed the post as well. Meaningful relationships and passions are just sooooo important! It is amazing how many people settle for dispassionate existences (I don’t know if it even qualifies as living).

  7. Enjoyed this post very much. For me, the relationships aspect is the one that is lacking a bit (thanks for reminding me). Contribution is a very interesting one – psychologists find that people are most happy when they make the ones around them happy. As to wealth – I do like to distinguish between being ‘rich’ and being wealthy – the former is about the material and the latter has very strong spiritual element as well.

    • Well said Maria. There is definitely a spiritual element to this. Yes relationships are hard because many of us fail to find time to fit spending time with others in. We are working to keep up with our friends and loved ones so we don’t end up alone and have regrets. It is all about making priorities- what really is the most important?

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