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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

What Is Life About? How to Find Your Meaning in Life

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What Is Life About? How to Find Your Meaning in Life

What is life about? What is the meaning of life? Why do we exist?

Everyone, from ancient Greek Stoics all the way to modern lifestyle gurus, have answered these kinds of questions in an endless variety of ways. And yet, we still search for a satisfying answer.

Neither this article, nor any other one, can deliver a tangible solution to the curious case of life. And that’s okay!

The truth is, part of what makes the meaning of life so alluring is its engrossing diversity, mystery, and intangibility. However, it’s important to point out that the lack of a solid answer doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking for one.

The search for what life is about is a journey that each individual person must embark on for themselves. Each person must look for their own, uniquely fulfilling answer to the question.

Fortunately, there are many different behaviors, ideals, and actions that humans have found over the centuries that can be excellent methods to draw us towards that final, inner conclusion of why we exist.

What Is the Real Meaning of Life?

This age-old question is like a shadow that follows you in every stage of your life, and although some of the world’s brightest minds have answered this question, you may still be left wondering what the meaning of life truly is.

Life is too incredible to simply be a cosmic accident, right?

What is life about differs from person to person. During your childhood years, the meaning of life may be provided by your parents.

As you grow into an adult, its meaning may be influenced by your peers and friends, as well as the media around you. And when you finally retire, you may realize that the meaning of life you once believed has changed.

There is no right or wrong answer to what is life about. It simply is what you make of it. Perhaps the next section can guide you figure out what your personal meaning of life is.

What is Your Purpose in Life?

What is the nature of life? What does life mean to you? Is there a purpose?

If we seek jobs, all we will find are jobs. But if we have a sense of purpose in how we are productive; if we seek a calling, then we will find more than a job. We will find our contribution to humanity and we will find more to life. Would you agree?

Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. So it should be noted that to be happy in life isn’t always enough, because happiness is a surge of emotions that does not last. Instead, it’s more important to find and have meaning in life.

Meaning in Life

Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness, but not at all with meaning.

According to a study [1], you can find the meaning in your life by assessing three dimensions of your life:

1. Purpose

This refers to the existence of your aims and goals. It is guided by the belief that you are in this world to do something. Therefore, think of your personal mission or purpose.

Is your purpose to spread love in your community? Is your purpose to inspire others with your career? Or maybe your purpose is to raise your children?

Having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression.

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So it should be noted that to be happy in life isn’t always enough, because happiness is a surge of emotions that does not last. Instead, it’s more important to find and have meaning in life.

2. Coherence

This involves how events in your life fit together. It is assumed that life is full of surprises and all the things that happen in your life did not happen by chance.

Coherence suggests that you should have faith that in time, you will make sense of everything that has happened in your past.

3. Significance

Significance is the inherent value of your life. People live different lives. This point reassures you that your life matters, you are worth living, and you are living a meaningful life.

You have significance and the world will not be the same if you didn’t exist.

Stop Going on a Wild Goose Chase

Ironically, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is leaving people less happy. “It is the very pursuit of happiness, that thwarts happiness”, according to Viktor Frankl, a famous Austrian Neurologist and Holocaust survivor.

Look at the statement “There is more to life than ______.”

Have you answered it meaningfully?

If you’ve read on this far, and are now wondering how to take that first step to figuring out what your true purpose is in life, fret not; I’m here to help you reframe your mind and actions so that you can embark on a journey of finding true meaning to your life.

Everything that you can do and accomplish in life are bound by the Life Multipliers. These are the true essentials needed to achieve excellence. They’ll put you on a path that gives great meaning and satisfaction in life.

The best thing of all? They already exist in each of us. We just don’t always make the most of it, or sometimes we aren’t even aware of the power that each of these skills have to help us in life.

On it’s own, each skill is unique and can help you through different stages of life, or problems. But as a whole set, these 7 Life Multipliers will give you full transformation over any situation.

No matter what phase of life you’re in, what you’re striving to achieve, or what you’re lacking, your pursuit of meaning in life will be much faster when you’re able to make use of not one, not two, but all the Life Multipliers.

These Life Multipliers are:

1. Self-Empowerment

This refers to sustainable motivation and confidence about what you want to achieve. It means being clear about your purpose and knowing how to stay motivated during adversity.

2. Self-Control

With self-control, you can consistently set clear goals and follow through your plan. It means knowing how to build constructive habits and routines that support your goals.

3. Renewable Vitality

A person with renewable vitality is physically fit and healthy. They exercise regularly, eat well, and know how to look after themselves.

4. Emotion Mastery

A person with emotion mastery can manage and change the way they feel and cope with situations. They are also able to reframe negativity into positive actions.[1]

5. Conscious Communication

With conscious communication, you understand others’ ideas and are able to express and deliver your own thoughts and feelings clearly.

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6. Smart Focus

With smart focus, you’re able to get things done in the most effective and efficient manner. You’ll know how to take control of your time and energy by working smart.

7. Learning and Adaptability

With learning and adaptability, you can quickly master any knowledge and skill. You’re also able to respond to change swiftly and never stop growing.

8. Constructive Thinking

With constructive thinking, you have a clear mind. You know how to utilize your brain power to solve problems and be creative.

9 Simple Ways to Find Out What Life Is About

There are many different behaviors, ideals, and actions that humans have found over the centuries that can be excellent methods to draw us towards that final, inner conclusion of why we exist.

Here are a handful of ways to kickstart the adventure of finding out just what life is really about:

1. Love People

Like life, love is one of the most commonly discussed yet, elusive things that humans encounter. Is it a behavior? A lifestyle? A person or object? A relationship with God? It’s used in all of these ways, depending on the context.

However, one thing that always remains is that love is a powerful force for good. Many of the most meaningful things in life are borne out of love — whether we’re loving things, others, or even ourselves.

One of the best ways to find the meaning of life through love is to practice connecting with our families. From parents and siblings to a spouse and children, loving our family is a powerful way to grow in our knowledge and appreciation of what life has to offer.

A spouse, children, friends, life partners, and strong platonic relationships provide a unique and powerful feeling that is difficult to find anywhere else.

This is largely because they’re intimately connected to the eye-opening, natural desire to reproduce and leave our mark on the world through posterity.

2. Detox from Technology and Gain Perspective

Next up, we have the extremely important need to detox from time to time. Modern life is fraught with dangerously addicting distractions like social media, that can take up gobs of time without us even realizing it.

Its the effects can go beyond simply frittering away time. In fact, one study suggested that perhaps as much as a staggering 30% of divorces originate with Facebook interactions. [2]

Life doesn’t simply happen in a vacuum, though. Once you’ve managed to disconnect from those devices and social profiles, it’s important to take that time and energy and redirect it towards a healthier mindset.

Spend time meditating, praying, and even simply dwelling on an attitude of gratefulness. Find things that you’re thankful for and make an effort to express appreciation for what you have on a regular basis (you know, rather than envying others as we scroll through our Facebook feeds).

One of the keystones to life that numerous wise men throughout history always hearken back to is the simple appreciation, gratefulness, and thanks that come with a good perspective.

3. Look for Meaningful Ways to Give Back

Donations and charities aren’t lacking these days. In fact, the phenomenon of charitable giving is at an all-time high.

Awareness has skyrocketed in the age of information, and Americans gave a record-breaking $410.02 billion to charity in 2017 alone. [3]

But just because we know how to give doesn’t mean we’re really, truly invested in giving back to others.

Real, honest giving doesn’t come out of personal abundance and overflow, nor does it typically take the form of a crisp dollar bill. It comes out of a desire to help others — a desire that can be huge in helping to get a healthy perspective of life.

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If you want to find out more about life, consider genuinely giving back to the world around you. Don’t just scrounge up your extra cash and give it to a cause someone else is passionate about.

Find out where your own passions are. What needs and hurts in the world get your heart racing and your mind searching for a solution?

Find those, then invest yourself. Give until it hurts. The results are exhilarating. This article can help you: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

4. Try a Hobby

While we’ve already talked about what we can do for others, that doesn’t mean a little self-care isn’t needed once in a while too. We’re not talking about indulging those shallow, fleeting desires like a bowl of ice-cream or a trip to the spa, though.

Small treats are perfectly fine, but they don’t go very far in helping us truly appreciate the good life itself. Instead, try looking for a new challenge.

A challenge can be the perfect formula for helping to open our eyes to the beauty of the world around us. They provide value without the perpetual responsibility and financial concerns that come with our careers and professional lives.

Find a hobby that indulges your interests and simultaneously challenges your skills. Dive into a pursuit that has always intrigued or fascinated you, but you’ve never had the time to explore on your own.

Practice a new instrument, go fly fishing, try painting, learn a language — the world’s your oyster! This list of 50 low-cost hobbies will inspire you.

If you’re thoughtful in your selection, you may even be able to pursue an interest that can inadvertently develop your life skills and possibly even add to your resume. [4]

5. Overcome Insecurities

Let’s circle back around to the personal, inner thoughts and behaviors. One of the critical elements to a life well lived — and thus better understood — is overcoming insecurities.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Everyone has insecurities.

Sometimes those insecurities are a bit difficult to pin down and see for what they truly are. One of the best ways to rise above the fears and anxieties of life is to work on your insecurities.

Try to practice mindfulness, look for thought patterns, analyze your behavior, and identify when you’re being influenced by insecurities.

The more you become aware of your own insecurities, the more you’ll be able to rise above them, prevent selfish behavior, and enable yourself to do things that would have been impossible before.

If you’ve been trapped in a job you don’t like, for instance, due to insecurities about financial failure or peer pressure, overcoming those insecurities at their roots will enable you to move on somewhere else, to ask for that promotion you’ve been eyeing, or even simply move horizontally within the company in order to find better work that better satisfies your personality and talents. [5]

6. Never Stop Learning

Twelve years of structured school (not to mention a mini-career arc through college after that) can leave many of us feeling like we’re done with academics, school, and learning in general.

But the truth is, learning should be a lifelong process. Healthy humans are always in a state of learning. They see what’s around them and want to learn more, understand more, and see why everything is the way it is.

This doesn’t mean you need to manufacture a desire to start reading textbooks on calculus in order to see what life is about. It’s simply an encouragement to start to take an interest in the world around you.

Investigate, probe, and learn more about things that catch your interest, and your passion for learning will start to grow on its own before long.

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For instance, even if you pushed yourself all the way through a masters degree already, don’t close the book on your academic career quite yet.

Consider going back to school (no matter your age) in order to get a post-master certificate. [6] This won’t just give you an edge in the professional arena; it will also serve as a way to satisfy that inherent desire to learn.

While that’s just one example out of many, the point is, it’s important to find ways to continue learning and growing on a regular basis.

7. Go Minimalist

It’s easy to hear about concepts like “minimalism” and think about extreme lifestyles, like Buddhist monks living in barren temples up in the mountains. But the truth is, minimalism is an easy lifestyle to adapt even in the cluttered, materialistic West.

If you take small steps like avoiding purchasing unnecessary new things, storing seasonal items, and generally decluttering, you can ease into a minimalist mindset without much trouble. [7]

This doesn’t just help with finances and your cleaning schedule, either. A life with less clutter often leads to a clearer, more grateful mindset. And a grateful mindset can be a key part of gaining deeper insight into what this life stuff is really about in the first place.

8. Travel

You saw this one coming, right? Those that seriously travel tend to gain a deeper perspective of life as a whole. The trick is, though, you can’t go into your travels as a fanny pack-touting tourist that’s only interested in “seeing the sights” and hitting up the pristine beaches.

Here’s a good litmus test for you: if you expect everyone to talk to you in your native language as you travel, you’re not in the right headspace.

If you take the time to travel, make sure to do so with the specific purpose of seeing the world outside of your own comfort zone.

How are other cultures different from your own? How do other geographic areas affect how people live? What does a developing or war-torn country truly look like?

If you set out with this perspective, you’re much more likely to have your heart and mind opened in ways you never could have expected.

9. Try to Be More Aware

Finally, we have one last, gigantic call to action: be more aware.

If a person can truly foster the ability to pay attention to everything around them, they develop the ability to break free from the self-centered mindset that all humans naturally slip into when we’re not paying attention.

Just to clarify, this isn’t a call not to pay attention to your own thoughts and needs. They’re important too. In fact, the Dalai Lama said,

“One must be compassionate to one’s self before external compassion.”

Whether it’s ourselves at first or others afterward, truly developing the ability to be aware of and empathize with the life that goes on in and around us is a critical part of understanding just why we’re all alive in the first place.

Final Thought

Hopefully, by this point, you don’t really expect a simple answer to what is life about. On the other hand, you may not feel it’s a hopeless inquiry, either.

Remember, the reason we don’t have a good answer about what life is about is that it’s too complex to fit into words in the first place!

The complexities and nuances of a “good life” are so profound that they take an entire lifetime of exploration — both of ourselves and the world around us — to even begin to formulate an answer. And even then, we’ve typically only scratched the surface.

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When you break it down, the meaning of life is so deep and valuable, it’s worth chasing, even if the end goal is only to catch a glimpse of the glory that keeps us all moving forward day after day.

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 14, 2022

Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

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Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

Are you wondering…

Where am I going in life? Where am I supposed to be going in life?

And to answer your questions, here’s what the great writer and thinker, Christopher Morley famously wrote:

There are three ingredients to the good life – learning, earning and yearning.

Where Am I Going? Is It the Right Direction in Life?

There are many times in life where one does not know what comes next or where to go in life. The realization that you are lost and don’t know where to go, or that you don’t like where you are going often comes as an epiphany.

Most people describe this as being in a rut. It’s like you have everything you want and still so much is missing. You could have everything in the world but something about your life still doesn’t feel right.

Signs That You Need to Change Direction in Life

It is important to identify when you are unhappy with your life and want to change where you are going. Some of the most common signs of needing a change in life are as follows:

  1. You feel unhappy with your life and often reminiscence about the choices you made.
  2. You feel as if you are forced to go against your morals and intuition at work or home.
  3. The situation that you find yourself in currently is causing you a lot of stress.
  4. There is a fear or dread of the future and the consequences of your life decisions that have been causing you anxiety.
  5. You feel like you had to give up on your passions and interests just to make it in this world.
  6. The future that you are currently envisioning seems nothing like what practically lies ahead.
  7. You find yourself surrounded by unhappy people who often think you’re too idealistic.
  8. You often look forward to having a ‘good day’ even when nothing is particularly wrong with the days right now.

If you feel like most of these signs apply to you, then it’s time to re-evaluate where you are headed in life and how you want to change that.

The 3 Key Phases of Life

Before learning how to choose the right direction for yourself, first try to understand the 3 key phases of life:

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The Learning Phase

The Learning phase typically stretches from the age of five into the early twenties and its over-riding characteristic is freedom.

Your thinking is unfettered, you are chock-full of dreams and aspirations and (happily) someone else is footing the bills. It’s not a cliché to say that schooldays, for many of us, really were the happiest days of our lives.

Contrast it with adult life – no one expects very much of you, and other than passing a few exams along the way and you can just swing along, having a great old time …

The Earning Phase

The next phase is the Earning years; the period from leaving formal education (at 20-something) to retirement (at 50-something or 60-something). Welcome to the grown-up world, welcome to the tax net.

The overriding concern in this Earning phase is the security (I spell that word as follows: $ecurity because, for many people, this phase tends to be all about generating sufficient income to pay the monthly bills.)

Reality bites. This can require sublimating the dreams of youth as a life of routine takes over. Few in the Earning years question the choices they have made because, typically, this questioning process can be quite disconcerting – oddly, I find this is particularly true of people who are less than happy with their working lives.

Routine generation of wealth becomes paramount and you get swept along with the current. This is fine if you made sound choices in your late teens and early twenties with regard to your career. But if you didn’t … for routine, read ‘RUT’.

Which brings us to Morley’s Yearning phase – from ceasing your full-time occupation until … well, ceasing.

The Yearning Phase

What is yearning? Unfortunately, yearning is not the same as simple hankering, wanting or desire. The dictionary definition of yearning is:

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“A feeling of intense longing for something lost, absent or unattainable.”

A bit gloomy. So for many people, the Yearning years are about looking back over a life not quite fulfilled and saying ‘I wish, I wish. If only … if only …’

With the wisdom of years comes regret for the road not taken, the too-conservative choices made.

Studies conducted in the geriatric population and on terminally ill people consistently demonstrate that regrets in human beings arise as a result of decisions not taken. The wise old owls that I have talked to over the years all speak with one voice on this.

It is better to look back and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t …’ rather than wistfully saying, ‘I wish I had …’

Think about where you are…

As you think about your career, your life, and your plans for the future, you are, at the very least, going to have to contemplate some uncomfortable choices about yourself, your personal style and your level of happiness.

I make no apologies for this – that’s just life. But I contend that it is better to take the time and spend the effort now to improve the choices that you make for later, rather than to have those choices made for you at a time that may not suit you.

Some people get these choices unerringly right and they do so early in their lives. Others come to a realization of the right path much later in life. Ray Kroc changed his whole approach to his McDonald’s business in his early 50s. [1] Colonel Sanders didn’t start his KFC franchising efforts until he was in his early 60s.[2] And the list can go on.

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It’s never too early and it’s never too late – but you have to think about it.

How to Choose the Right Path

Do you know at what phase of life are you now? Once you understand where you are now, the next step is to find the direction you want to move to.

You have the motivation and direction to take your life where you need it to be, you just need to get up and do it. The best time for change is now, and if you procrastinate any further you might miss out on a great opportunity.

To live a meaningful life, it is important to pick a direction that brings both peace and success. Here are some things to take into consideration when choosing a new direction in life:

1. Chose What Your Inner Child Would Want

It is very important to acknowledge the needs and opinions of our ‘inner child’. That’s because we often have real happiness at this age and develop passions that last us a lifetime. To calibrate your direction in life, think of what the younger you would feel about your current situation and what would they want to do.

2. Think About The Things You Want To Change

Make a list of the things in your current life that you are dissatisfied with and want to change. Then think of the alternative options you have to give yourself a life where you find happiness and fulfillment by avoiding these things. This will help you understand what must be done to feel good in life.

3. Find Inspiration to Follow

Everyone has an idea of what they want in life and finding inspiration isn’t hard in this day and age. Just think about those you admire and see as role models and try to follow in their footsteps. As they have already reached a place you associate to be a goal, you will find it easier to navigate your way through life to reach that destination as well.

4. Be Clear on What You Don’t Want To Be

To find out where you want to be headed in life, try finding out where you don’t want to end up. This would help identify situations and placed you would try and avoid at all costs. It keeps you on the right track because if you minimize the wrong paths, then choosing the right one becomes much easier.

5. Learn to Enjoy Where You Are

There is no such thing as a perfect life. What you need to learn, is to work hard and to find things to be happy and grateful for.

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Live in the moment, appreciate the things you have. Only this way you will see clearly the meaning of your life.

6. Commit to Getting or Staying Healthy

Nothing is more important than your mental, spiritual and physical health.

Getting your life on the right path isn’t something you can achieve in a day. But, with hard work and dedication, you will get there!

7. Help Others

By helping others you will increase your sense of purpose and improve self-esteem.

There are many ways to do this. Volunteer in your community, mentor young people, or just help neighbors.

You will be surprised by the feeling you will have after.

Start Making the Change Today

After reading all this, you are surely ready to change the direction of your life. Start by making a change today instead of just thinking about it. Every difficult journey starts with a single step, and this is the sign to take yours. Once you make one change, the rest follow suit and soon your life will be exactly how you want it to be.

Need more help to get out of the rut? Take a look at these articles:

Featured photo credit: Johannes Plenio via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Britannica: Ray Kroc
[2] Biography: Colonel Sanders

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