"Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day."
~ Dalai Lama
Meaning and meaningfulness in one’s life can be a goal, a pursuit, a passion, or an Achilles’ heel. How so? While those of us who feel, believe, and think we are making an impact, and therefore, a difference, are likely in the first three aspects…setting goals, pursuing joy, and passionately experiencing all we get to do. Still, others are frustrated, fumbling, and/or feelings as though they’ll never “get it”.
Because meaning is personal, and living a meaningful life is not the same as being happy, and/or experiencing and embracing happiness, it can seem elusive. It is not, and while the list here may look like a playbook or script, there is no order to the rhythm, rather your rhythm in moving through them will be your order.
10. Decide what your priorities are. Have 2, 3, or 4 that you know well and carry in your mind and heart. With those in mind, set your intention each day for that day, and set goals for days, weeks, months, and years. Intentions for experiences or days will allow you to be focused and present.
9. Determine if your career is your calling or not. If so, go in fully, and if not, that is not a failure, it is success to learn that, and then you can pursue your calling adjunctly, as a side gig, or as a full change in your vocation. That’s up to you (all of this is!). Similarly, own and appreciate your passion. This need not have anything to do with your career and may link to your calling. Passion is that spark for you. Perhaps it’s coaching or dancing, and that may bring exercise and/or income or it may not. You may have a passion for reading. Make time for your passion.
8. Know that happiness is a state of mind and that you, and only you, are the one person responsible for your happiness. Get away from thinking being 10 pounds lighter or at a different job or in a relationship will make you happy. You take your mood and attitude with you, and the circumstances and people you are around either enhance or hinder them. Choose happiness and go forward from there!
7. Engage in, and work on your Emotional Intelligence. Being self-aware, compassionate, and gracious with yourself and others will allow you to keep a perspective on life and situations that keeps you from being self-focused. Practice kindness. My definition of kindness is doing something for someone that benefits them whether they know you did it or not.
6. Know that you are responsible for your choices and actions. Even when your choice or action did not go how you wanted or anticipated, own the outcomes and impacts and move forward. This is not excusing behaviors or lack of action, this is about being in the game and knowing while you can win growth, nobody has to lose as a result. Be proud of good choices. Apologize if choices impact others negatively. Name what you are doing or have done without blaming anyone or anything. Forgive. Forgive others, and forgive yourself, too. While feelings get hurt and things get said, timing and intention play roles in exchanges. Still, fully embrace and accept that most people do not want to hurt you, and if they do, that is a reflection of how they feel about themselves more than about you.
5. Spend less money than you make and give back. This can be in making time and in donating money for causes and people who can benefit from your efforts. It’s not the amount that counts, it is that you make something else, outside of you and your family, work and activities, something you give worth and work to make a difference!
4. Go it alone at times to grow, and then allow others in at times to assist in different growth. Know that there is no shame in asking for input or guidance. At the same time, don’t apologize if something is important for you to experience on your own. Don’t exclude or get dependent, rather be aware of what is best for you in each situation.
3. Use time as your collaborator and not your nemesis. What? Yes, utilize the time you have in front of you and plan for it. This is not meant to make your life rigid, rather it is about making the most of each moment. Relaxing, sleeping, resting, and playing are all part of a full life, so that time is included in having a meaningful life. When that time is arranged, be present for what is available and what you get to experience.
2. Love. Love fully. Love your friends. Be happy for others. Love a good time story. Love seeing people succeed. Spend little to no time or energy on jealousy or comparing yourself to others. Spend your vibes, words, and actions on moving toward creating and cultivating loving ways and relationships – romantic and otherwise. Let love guide you and let love lift you…and others!
1. Be thankful, appreciative, and grateful. See what you have and celebrate that rather than imagining what is missing and focusing on that. I often say be grateful for what you have rather than hateful for what you don’t. Similarly, be appreciative of who is present rather than antagonistic toward those who are not.
Having and living a meaningful life can be complicated when thinking about it long-term, and yet these approaches allow you to simplify your dedication and enjoyment of the meaning you either have within you, or you will find within you!
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