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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 April 9, 2020

How to Think Positive Thoughts When Feeling Negative

How to Think Positive Thoughts When Feeling Negative

Positive thinking can lead to a lot of positive change in your life. Developing an optimistic outlook can be good for both your physical and mental health.

But sometimes, certain situations arise in life that makes it hard to keep a positive outlook. Take steps to make positive thinking become more like your second nature and you’ll reap the biggest benefits.

Here are 10 ways to make thinking positive thoughts easy:

1. Spend Time with Positive People

If you surround yourself with constant complainers, their negativity is likely to rub off on you.

Spend time with positive friends and family members to increase the likelihood that their positive thinking habits will become yours too. It’s hard to be negative when everyone around you is so positive.

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Learn How to Surround Yourself With Positive People.

2. Take Responsibility for Your Behavior

When you encounter problems and difficulties in life, don’t play the role of the victim. Acknowledge your role in the situation and take responsibility for your behavior.

Accepting responsibility can help you learn from mistakes and prevent you from blaming others unfairly.

3. Contribute to the Community

One of the best ways to feel good about what you have, is to focus on what you have to give.

Volunteer in some manner and give back to the community. Helping others can give you a new outlook on the world and can assist you with positive thinking.

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4. Read Positive and Inspirational Materials

Spend time each day reading something that encourages positive thinking. Read the Bible, spiritual material, or inspirational quotes to help you focus on what’s important to you in life. It can be a great way to start and end your day.

Some recommendations for you:

5. Recognize and Replace Negative Thoughts

You won’t be successful at positive thinking if you’re still plagued by frequent negative thoughts. Learn to recognize and replace thoughts that are overly negative. Often, thoughts that include words like “always” and “never” signal that they aren’t true.

If you find yourself thinking something such as, “I always mess everything up,” replace it with something more realistic such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes but I learn from them.”

There’s no need to make your thoughts unrealistically positive, but instead, make them more realistic.

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6. Establish and Work Toward Goals

It’s easier to be positive about problems and setbacks when you have goals that you’re working toward. Goals will give you motivation to overcome those obstacles when you encounter problems along the way. Without clear goals, it’s harder to make decisions and gauge your progress.

Learn to set SMART goals to help you achieve more.

7. Consider the Consequences of Negativity

Spend some time thinking about the consequences of negative thinking. Often, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, a person who thinks, “I probably won’t get this job interview,” may put less effort into the interview. As a result, he may decrease his chances of getting the job.

Create a list of all the ways negative thinking impacts your life. It likely influences your behavior, your relationships, and your feelings. Then, create a list of the ways in which positive thinking could be beneficial.

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8. Offer Compliments to Others

Look for reasons to compliment others. Be genuine in your praise and compliments, but offer it frequently. This will help you look for the good in other people.

9. Create a Daily Gratitude List

If you start keeping a daily gratitude list, you’ll start noticing exactly how much you have to be thankful for. This can help you focus on the positive in your life instead of thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the day.

Getting in the habit of showing an attitude of gratitude makes positive thinking more of a habit. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

10. Practice Self-Care

Take good care of yourself and you’ll be more equipped to think positively.

Get plenty of rest and exercise and practice managing your stress well. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking.

Learn about these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

More Tips for Staying Positive

Featured photo credit: DESIGNECOLOGIST via unsplash.com

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