For modern man the search for the meaning of life is becoming more and more relevant: because every year the world is getting more complicated, and hearing your own desires, goals and meaning is becoming more and more difficult. Whether you are a schoolboy who does his homework every day, a student who is constantly busy with lectures, a paper writer who helps the same students in writing their term papers, or an office worker who works every day. The fact is that every day we are faced with difficulties and a huge flow of information. Don’t believe me? Look at the number of your subscriptions in social networks: dozens of communities daily post hundreds of news, and this is only one channel for getting information.
In today’s reality, how do you learn to hear yourself?
What is meaning
Meaning is formed from “with a thought.” That is, to live “with a thought” means to make sense of yourself, your relationships with the people around you, your activities, and not to live on automatic, like a robot, because “everyone lives that way”. Perhaps living “like everyone else” just doesn’t work for you?
What do we mean by consciousness? Living consciously means analyzing yourself, setting goals and striving to achieve them without being distracted by momentary pleasures when possible.
Feeling that one’s life is meaningful also depends a lot on belonging to a small (family, work collective, friends) or large social group (religious community, nation), to belonging to some important cause or goal. A person begins to get satisfaction from life because he/she becomes a part of a family or a labor collective and feels his/her necessity: he/she has certain tasks, duties, obligations (which do not burden him/her, on the contrary, enrich him/her).
Tips for finding meaning
Here are general recommendations, following which you can give your life new meanings:
- Believing .
In this life it is important for a person to believe in something and have hope in something. It may be religious faith, it may be faith in an idea, or it may be a general belief in science, art, or just human kindness.
One of the outstanding psychologists of the 20th century and the founder of Logotherapy (treatment with meaning) Victor Frankl, being in a concentration camp, noted that people who had a rich inner world, including religious people, had a higher survival rate: “A person of faith sees what happens to him as a test, or punishment for a sinful life, which gives his suffering a meaning and allows him to survive with dignity the situation in which he finds himself” (“Say Yes to Life!”, Frankl).
- Goals .
Meaningful and developed goals give meaning to life and give it a vector, a direction to activity. There are several basic categories* in which people usually set goals for themselves:
To have (goals of a material nature: things, a car, real estate, etc.).
To know (everything that refers to education: courses, advanced training, diplomas, Ph.D. thesis, etc.).
Relate (what kind of relationship I want with my husband/wife, with my colleagues at work, etc.).
To be (what do I want to be in this life? Architect, businessman, mother/father, philanthropist, etc.).
To act (there can be some specific goals in relation to professional growth or personal development. For example: to accomplish a sales plan for the quarter, or to lose 7 kg of weight by June, etc.).
- A case of life.
It is important to find an activity that best aligns with your values, desires, and aspirations. If you have not yet found such a thing for yourself, do not despair and keep looking and trying. And it’s best to stick to Theodore Roosevelt’s rule in life, “Do what you can with what you have, where you are!”
Any unselfish help to neighbors in need. It could be some kind of volunteer work as part of social service for the poor. It can be almsgiving to the poor. Donations of clothes to orphanages, etc.
“In their critical situation my patients relied on several kinds of meaning, both religious and secular, but nothing proved more important than altruism.”-Existential Psychotherapy, I. Yalom.
Having an activity in your life that brings you pleasure, whether you get paid for it or not, also gives your life meaning and positive emotions. If you don’t have a hobby in your life, make sure you get one. Try it, be curious, and never lose your ability to surprise and amaze.
- Sensible Hedonism.
Sensual and corporal pleasures can’t be the meaning of life in themselves, but their absence significantly reduces the positive emotional background and general satisfaction from life. Do not forget to pamper yourself with delicious food, spending time with your loved one or family in nature. Go to the movies, theaters and places that you like and energize you with positivity.
- Individual development
Remember also about your personal growth. Develop yourself as a professional. Do self-development, overcome yourself and get better day by day. Self-development is an important enough point, but it is also important what kind of people you surround yourself with. Try to be with people who are interesting to you, who are interested in you, because a lot depends on the environment in which you are and develop. You affect the environment, but the environment also affects you.
This includes taking care of yourself. Body health, mental health. Exercise, eat healthy foods. Don’t forget to pay attention to information hygiene: don’t spend a long time in front of a computer, gadget or TV. Try to switch off all devices at least two hours before you go to sleep, and regularly organize yourself a “digital detox.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the greatest influence on the feeling of meaning in our lives is positive quality relationships with people. A group of scientists led by psychiatrist Robert Woldinger conducted the famous Harvard 75-year study of 2 groups of people: poor families from Boston and Harvard graduates. Scientists set out to investigate and identify what really makes a person happy? At the end of the study and interviewing the subjects, the psychologists concluded that what makes people happy is not a career, nor houses, apartments, cars and money, nor social status and achievements, but good, good relationships with people.
“The clearest revelation we got from the 75-year study is that good relationships make us happier and healthier,” R. Waldinger.
So if you build and have positive relationships with your family, with your co-workers, with your friends you can become a happy and healthy person. Even if you don’t like your job, you have some troubles or health problems, but you live in harmony with yourself, all the problems that happen to you can’t take away your sense of meaning in your life. After all, there are people who care about you and who care about you, and this fills your life with meaning, satisfaction, and joy.
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