How Could I Live a More Meaningful Life?
A great number of writers and thinkers have shared their thoughts on the Purpose of Life, without which we are like sailors at the open sea without a compass.
Writer Tom Thiss has remarked that “having a purpose is the difference between making a living and making a life,” and former U.S. president John F. Kennedy that “efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
Concepts have as well been created in attempts to clarify how we find meaning in life, one example being the Japanese ikigai. “Your ikigai is at the intersection of what you are good at and what you love doing,” notes writer Hector Garcia.
He further notes: “Just as humans have lusted after objects and money since the dawn of time, other humans have felt dissatisfactions at the relentless pursuit of money and fame and have instead focused on something bigger than their own material wealth. This has over the years been described using many different words and practices, but always hearkening back to the central core of meaningfulness in life.”
Which brings us to the next set of questions: Are you doing what you really want to do, regardless if this is related to your personal life, or your relationships with friends and family, the organization where you work, the community and country you come from, and our lovely planet Earth?
All of us need purpose in life, and the first thing to do in order to understand what really purpose is, is to realize that it’s something different from happiness in life, although the two interconnect in the journey.
Your life should send a message to others
You can interpret Life Purpose as the message you want to send to others during your time being here on Earth. As simple as it may sound, there is a great deal of complexity to it, especially as we understand that it’s our life mission that drives our purpose forward.
You may want to show the world that with great efforts and collaborative work within the family, you can run a great family business and enjoy a life of abundance. Or that with persistence, focus, and dedication, you can become a master of certain science and participate in ground-breaking discoveries.
Or perhaps, if you aspire to be a great leader, you want to stand up for causes such as lasting peace in the world, in which case, you show others that it’s with mutual respect and dialogue where we overcome our differences and find solutions that work for both sides, i.e. secure peace.
Some people may question the need for having a purpose in life. Isn’t it possible that we just go through life and enjoy ourselves? In this regard, it’s good to remember that life purpose is point zero of your conscious living. Deep inside ourselves, we all hope and wish for living the best life possible for us, as we only have one life to live.
Be a busy bee as much as you want, and deal with the hundreds of big and small tasks during the course of your day. But your purpose in life should be there to serve as your lighthouse. To prevent you from setting the wrong coordinates at the open sea and save you from ending up in the wrong waters.
Your life purpose may be entirely different than your life goals. You may achieve everything you’ve ever wanted to do in a decade or two, only to wake up one day and realize this was not exactly what you aimed for in the first place. You’ve somehow navigated a wrong course. Congratulations. You’ve failed. Fail seven times, but raise the eight time.
Having a life purpose will help you know what exactly you aspire towards in your life and will clear the values and the message your life ought to represent. It’s how you set sails towards your most meaningful Life. If you are still not clear what is the greater purpose of your life, do take a blank piece of paper, unclutter your mind, think and write it down. It’s already there, deep down in you. You need to make that your lighthouse.
We find new meanings with the help of friends and family
As we are sailing the seven seas, and as we are looking our way to reach the Lighthouse, we must remember that we cannot do it without people. Not just any people. But those people with whom we are most connected with–our friends and family.
These are the people who will stand with us when the storm hits in, in our most miserable of days, throughout our hormonal changes or aging, recovering from surgery or after losing a near and dear one.
Friends and family are part of our life journey. They are the ones who will often validate and help us extract meanings from our life experiences and achievements.
One of your life goals was to write a book, and now you finally did it. It’s just about to get published, but before that, you truly want to validate if this book reflects an important aspect of you, perhaps your life purpose, and life values. Which is when you go to a friend to seek their assessment.
Vice versa. You should be there to appreciate the achievement of your friend as well. Perhaps you are not interested in what they do in their professional life, but then again, maybe they were not interested at all in your book in the first place, but they still found the time to read and comment through. It’s with mutual understanding, support, collaboration, and openness that we extract new meanings from relationships.
Your work also reflects who you are(
Who we are and what is our life message should also reflect on what we do for a living. We will certainly shift from one working place to another multiple time throughout our life, but hopefully, we will anchor in the field of work which best resonates with our talents and what we really perceive as the ideal profession for ourselves.
For instance, you feel a certain connection with the cause of ending world hunger, and you do dedicate several years of your life working in an organization that deals with that cause. Only to realize after a while that besides you like your job, besides you are well paid, you are still missing something. It’s not enough to just like your job – you have to love it. And what you miss is probably finding new purpose in work.
It can take a tremendous amount of effort to re-navigate your career vessel towards friendlier-for-you waters and see a coastline that feels closer to your heart. When you anchor there, is when the real working life begins, with all its new challenges and time of learning. It’s never too late to do this.
You are the walking embodiment of where you come from
We all come from the same human family, but it’s also true that much of our values and inner beliefs are shaped by the community and the country in which we were raised as kids or where we have spent a significant amount of time during our adulthood.
No matter where we find ourselves at a certain point in life, no matter towards where we are setting the sails in the wild waters of life, we consciously or unconsciously represent the place we come from and we allow the values of that place to reflect through us.
Some of us have been more fortunate and come from richer countries or more favorable environments. Some people have been less fortunate and come from poorer countries or even violent mother-communities. How do we use that as a strength and an asset in adding more meaning to life?
Isn’t our home environment one of the places where we can seek more inspiration to carry out the life mission we have set for ourselves? Embedding the home experience into our waking life can be part of our greater life mission. Perhaps your community left you with the impression that you are not good enough, but you can now return and prove to everyone that you were still worth something. Or perhaps you simply want to bring some kind of change there.
It’s always good to remember that you are the walking embodiment of your people and your nation. It’s their values and experiences that have been passed onto you and part of what you showcase to others, at work, in front of friends and colleagues from foreign countries, originates exactly from the place you call home.
We all share the same home
Last but not least, our meaning and purpose in life and work should for good align with the one and only home we currently have at our hands–our beautiful planet Earth. In times when world governments are right to declare a climate emergency, when we face serious threats of rising sea levels and ever more frequent extreme weather events due to global warming, we must act urgently to protect the ship from sinking.
After all, we are the creation of the same planet which has nurtured and supported our evolution. Therefore our life purpose and mission must do justice for the planet as well.
Embracing the feminine energy of giving and caring is one way to lead the way in this regard. As physicist and thinker, Vandana Shiva says: “The values we need are the values of knowledge, of how to live with nature. That’s what a woman’s knowledge is. We need knowledge of how to care… We need knowledge of how to share. That is a capacity we will need more and more in the future, in a period of extraction. So women with their caring and sharing will be the teachers of how to be human in the future.”