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5 Tips to Journaling Your Way to Life Purpose and Meaning

5 Tips to Journaling Your Way to Life Purpose and Meaning

Struggling to stay motivated in your everyday activities? Lack of motivation often comes from lacking a sense of life purpose and feeling. It shows that you are not living a meaningful life.

Health Benefits of Meaning and Purpose

A rich sense of life purpose and meaning has other benefits. Recent research shows that people who feel that their life has meaning experience substantially higher sense of well-being and even physical health. For example, Michael F. Steger, a psychologist and Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Meaning and Quality of Life at Colorado State University, found that many people gain a great deal of psychological benefit from understanding what their lives are about and how they fit within the world around them. His research demonstrated that people who have a sense of life meaning and purpose feel in general more happy as well as more satisfied on a daily level, and also feel less depressed, anxious, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

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Additionally, the research on life meaning and purpose shows that it does not matter how you get this sense of meaning and purpose in life. What most important is that you experience your life as having a meaning and purpose. The key question is not “What is the meaning of life?” In fact, research seems to show that there is no exact answer to this question. The only question that matters is “What is the meaning of life for you?” Each of us is free to have her or his own answer to this question. By doing so, you get a personal sense of life meaning and purpose, and thus gain a sense of agency and choice by and through understanding your own personal life goals.

Journaling for Meaning and Purpose

Scientific evidence revealed that such self-reflection contributes greatly to develop that personal sense of meaning and purpose. For instance, one study used functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to show that it is really important to infuse meaning and purpose into the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.

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Journaling is a great tool for self-reflection. This video describes 5 specific journaling prompts to develop a rich and deep sense of life purpose and help you live a meaningful life, and how you can adapt them to your own personal search for meaning and purpose. They are also listed below.

First, take 5 minutes to think about how actively you reflect on your own sense of purpose and meaning in life. Next, reflect about your life purpose and meaning by taking 5 to 10 minutes to journal about each of the following questions for yourself.

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5 Journaling Prompts

  1. What were important recent events in your life?
  2. Which of them involved stresses and adversity, and how can you reframe them to have a better perspective on these events?
  3. What did you learn from these events?
  4. What are you grateful for in your life recently?
  5. What was your experience of life meaning and purpose recently?

Why these 5 prompts? Because they are specifically formulated to help you reflecting on your recent memories and create a personal narrative in a way that helps impart meaning and purpose into your life. However, you should feel free to adapt these prompts to your personal preferences if these questions do not resonate with the way you prefer to formulate your thoughts. The key is to have questions that help you engage in self-reflection and instill meaning and purpose into your experience of daily life.

Try such journaling every day for the upcoming week. Then, at the end of the week, review your journal and note bigger takeaways that you gained from writing down your reflections. I would encourage you to integrate journaling and regular reviews of your journaling into your everyday life practice, as a way of gaining the research-based benefits of journaling, including a greater sense of life meaning and purpose.

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Additional Resources You Can Check At

For additional resources, check out this workbook with exercises on finding meaning and purpose using science-based strategies; this free science-based web app to evaluate your current sense of meaning and purpose; this is a free online class on finding meaning and purpose using science; and the wide variety of other resources on meaning and purpose available at Intentional Insights.

Featured photo credit: Woman journaling via abundantmama.com

More by this author

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

President and Co-Founder at Intentional Insights; Disaster Avoidance Consultant

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Last Updated on February 13, 2019

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

Think being happy is something that happens as a result of luck, circumstance, having money, etc.? Think again.

Happiness is a mindset. And if you’re looking to improve your ability to find happiness, then check out these 10 things happy people do differently.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. -Dalai Lama

1. Happy people find balance in their lives.

Folks who are happy have this in common: they’re content with what they have, and don’t waste a whole lot of time worrying and stressing over things they don’t. Unhappy people do the opposite: they spend too much time thinking about what they don’t have. Happy people lead balanced lives. This means they make time for all the things that are important to them, whether it’s family, friends, career, health, religion, etc.

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2. Happy people abide by the golden rule.

You know that saying you heard when you were a kid, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Well, happy people truly embody this principle. They treat others with respect. They’re sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people. They’re compassionate. And they get treated this way (most of the time) in return.

3. Happy people don’t sweat the small stuff.

One of the biggest things happy people do differently compared to unhappy people is they let stuff go. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. Happy people realize this, are able to take things in stride, and move on. Unhappy people tend to dwell on minor inconveniences and issues, which can perpetuate feelings of sadness, guilt, resentment, greed, and anger.

4. Happy people take responsibility for their actions.

Happy people aren’t perfect, and they’re well aware of that. When they screw up, they admit it. They recognize their faults and work to improve on them. Unhappy people tend to blame others and always find an excuse why things aren’t going their way. Happy people, on the other hand, live by the mantra:

“There are two types of people in the world: those that do and those that make excuses why they don’t.”

5. Happy people surround themselves with other happy people.

happiness surrounding

    One defining characteristic of happy people is they tend to hang out with other happy people. Misery loves company, and unhappy people gravitate toward others who share their negative sentiments. If you’re struggling with a bout of sadness, depression, worry, or anger, spend more time with your happiest friends or family members. Chances are, you’ll find that their positive attitude rubs off on you.

    6. Happy people are honest with themselves and others.

    People who are happy often exhibit the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness. They would rather give you candid feedback, even when the truth hurts, and they expect the same in return. Happy people respect people who give them an honest opinion.

    7. Happy people show signs of happiness.

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    smile

      This one may sound obvious but it’s a key differentiator between happy and unhappy people. Think about your happiest friends. Chances are, the mental image you form is of them smiling, laughing, and appearing genuinely happy. On the flip side, those who aren’t happy tend to look the part. Their posture may be slouched and you may perceive a lack of confidence.

      8. Happy people are passionate.

      Another thing happy people have in common is their ability to find their passions in life and pursue those passions to the fullest. Happy people have found what they’re looking for, and they spend their time doing what they love.

      9. Happy people see challenges as opportunities.

      Folks who are happy accept challenges and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. They turn negatives into positives and make the best out of seemingly bad situations. They don’t dwell on things that are out of their control; rather, they seek solutions and creative ways of overcoming obstacles.

      10. Happy people live in the present.

      While unhappy people tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future, happy people live in the moment. They are grateful for “the now” and focus their efforts on living life to the fullest in the present. Their philosophy is:

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      There’s a reason it’s called “the present.” Because life is a gift.

      So if you’d like to bring a little more happiness into your life, think about the 10 principles above and how you can use them to make yourself better.

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