Harold S. Kushner said, “You don’t become happy by pursuing happiness. You become happy by living a life that means something,”. All of us feel demotivated, confused and unsure of ourselves, aimless, and as if we’re lacking something, but we should know that we’re not alone — many people sail in the same boat as us.
Meaning connects the past to the present, and present to the future, it is enduring. The more meaningful our life feels the more joy and happiness we experience. After reviewing hundreds of empirical papers from the growing body of research on meaningfulness, Emily Esphahani Smith found in “The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters” that the defining features of a meaningful life connect and contribute to something beyond the self.
Meaningful activities help to generate positive emotions and deepen social connections within us which helps to increase our satisfaction with life. Focusing on happiness in life instead of meaning is actually self-defeating. Happiness is temporary, you feel happy for a moment but then it’s gone. You might be laughing among your friends but the moment you’re alone, you start feeling lonely and exhausted. Running after happiness is like getting an iPhone X and then selling it later just to get iPhone 11. You are never fully satisfied.
Instead of going to extremes to live a more meaningful life, we just need to pause and recognize the many moments that already give us a sense of direction and accomplishment. Here are a few ways we can find the true meaning of life and feel satisfied instead of partially happy.
For a majority of people, traveling is the foremost thing that helps you to find your meaning in life. When you travel, you feel more woke. You get to know that your existence is, in fact, a very tiny element of this universe and what you have seen in your entire life, it’s actually nothing. Traveling makes people feel closer to nature, and they feel more complete as much as they travel and learn about new cultures and meet strangers who live a life not different from theirs but in their own way.
Reading and writing
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies”. This famous quote summarizes my point here. No one wants to die early. If we get a chance, we would all want to start over with out lives and live them in a different way. Reading makes us step into shoes of others and experience things that do not even exist in our own lives, while by writing we can write down the life we would want to live and make our characters choose things we didn’t choose and so experience new events. This itself makes us feel more complete as if we have lived life better than just doing office work.
Meditation and Yoga
Once you relax your mind, you automatically feel more relieved. Nothing can satisfy us until and unless our mind is calm and collected. Meditation doesn’t have to be hiking to the mountains and sitting with your legs crossed. It’s basically just soothing your mind and feeling at peace. We can meditate by doing anything that makes us feel so like a warm bath in hot tub with roses, dim lights from scented candles and it can even be doing yoga or spending time in the nature. Here you can read about meditation techniques to feel better.
Focusing on health
Health is wealth. That’s true. No matter how much money you have, if you’re not healthy it’s of no use. Yes we should embrace the way we are, but there is a fine line between unhealthy and healthy. Having a proper diet, doing cardio every week, avoiding drugs or getting treatments for our problems are the most basic ways of staying healthy. A healthy person has a lot of time to do things in life and explore the remaining world without any tension of falling sick. When in hospital, everyone regrets not focusing on their health when they had time.
Stepping out of the comfort zone
There is a variety of food, culture, fashion and customs that we are not aware of. Trying out things that are outside your comfort zone is an amazing way of exploring more about the unknown world and feeling more open and complete. In the end it’s all about not regretting about being unable to do something like cutting or coloring your hair, trying out that new restaurant or stepping into that so-not-your-style dress.
Having meaningful relationships
This should have probably been the first point. Meaningful relationships in life are the most important aspect of one’s life. Humans are social animals, we cannot survive alone. But having people only to party with and have fun isn’t important. You should have those around you who will always have your back no matter what, who will not judge you, and will always push you to be a better version of yourself. Be with people you can feel real with and always make sure to keep your family close to your heart because they’re the ones who love you without any conditions.