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Creating a More Meaningful Life

What is meaning?

Meaning in psychology generally refers to a significant or valuable explanation for why something happened or why it matters. This sense of meaning contributes to greater wellbeing. There are some agreement on what leads to meaning in life, ultimately, the definition of meaning depends on who you ask.

How is meaning different from happiness?

Both happiness and meaning come from interacting with other people. But meaning, in particular, comes from caring for others. For example, parenting contributes to more meaning but tends to contribute to more happiness.

Meaning also often comes from experiencing challenges, while happiness does not. Doing things that are hard often generates a sense of meaning - we feel like we have done something important or meaningful.

Lastly, our identities can contribute to more meaning. For example, we may have had to overcome difficulties - difficulties that made us who we are. This sense of story about how we came to be who we are is often meaningful to us.

What situations are meaningful?

Some examples of meaning in situations that many people experience.

● The birth of a child

● Getting an important job

● The death of a loved one

● Divorce or relationship breakup

● Losing a job

● A near-death experience

It is interesting to see how meaning may more often come from difficult than easy situations. Some tips on how to make meaning from hardship.

Create meaning in your life

Some ways to create meaning in your life

● Volunteering or helping someone

● Starting an important project

● Pursuing something challenging

● Expressing yourself

● Learning something new

There are so many ways to create more meaning in your life.

Create meaning with Kindness

One of the best ways to cultivate life purpose is by giving, being kind, compassionate, and generous - you may feel like you are in greater alignment with your values.

❓Ask yourself, what acts of kindness could you engage in?

Your random acts of kindness could be as simple as sharing a kind word or thank you. Or you could do a task for someone, like mowing their lawn, giving up your seat to someone, getting them groceries, or shovelling snow. You can also be kind creatively, maybe by giving someone a hand-made card or picture.

You can also do community service or join a program to clean up the environment. When you are giving, you can start to feel that you are providing something that helps others and are living a life of meaning.

Remember that kindness is a great way to create more meaning in your life.

What is already meaningful?

Notice the meaning that is already in your life. Maybe you find meaning in that one flower that somehow grew from between the cracks of the sidewalk. Maybe there is meaning in looking over rolling hills that seem to stretch on forever. Or maybe you find meaning in spending time with your pets. There are all sorts of little things that can provide meaning if you take the time to notice them.

Start by taking notice of small things around you to create more meaning in your life.

Created with content from The Berkeley Well-Being Institute.

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