How can you give your life meaning, and therefore, happiness?
As Mike so eloquently and passionately describes in his post Meaningful Life, we humans have a need for meaning in our lives; in fact, it turns out that meaning is a key ingredient to overall happiness.
Most of us get side tracked thinking that we’ll be happy when…. when we get that job, that romantic partner, that new cool thang or when we win the lottery. However, research over the last 20 years has shown that sustainable happiness is actually made up of:
- Having meaningful relationships
- Finding meaning in life, through our work or other contributions
- How well we feel on a day to day basis
Yes, we experience a spike in happiness when we unwrap that new thang or see the big number in our bank account, however it is only a spike and doesn’t influence our baseline happiness. We return to our set point quickly.
Happiness and meaning weren’t always easy for me, either.
I spent many years working for an organizations who’s purpose and meaning were not in alignment with mine. The pay was great and kept me motivated. However, I realized years later that my relationships in the organization were shallow and fragile as I was disconnected from a sense of meaning. In fact, all of my relationships suffered during that time, including the one with myself. It took me years to get back on the path of happiness and authentic contribution and I am exponentially happier now.
In order to experience fulfillment and happiness regularly, we benefit by addressing 1 – 3 above.
You could start by working with Mike on #3, strengthening your body and feeding yourself well – your physical health is a major contributor to your happiness.
Also, cultivate meaningful relationships: These are the deep, intimate, authentic relationships with friends and family where you can let your hair down, where you can call in the middle of the night, where you can celebrate and mourn the happenings in your life.
Some research suggests that we should be in touch with our closest at least every couple weeks and ideally get together in person once a month. So hooray holidays since this is traditionally a time when we gather with our loved ones!
Explore meaning in your work and life
Can you tell the story of why what you do matters?
I heard an amazing story years ago about a janitor at a hospital who was asked, “What’s your contribution?” to which he responded, “Here we save lives.” He included himself in the overall work and goal of the organization; he understood the meaning of his work in the larger picture of a safe and well run establishment.
You may find meaning through your family, your work, your volunteerism – it doesn’t matter where so long as you recognize it and stay connected to that meaning.
Words are easy, the real opportunity is in putting this knowledge into action:
Enjoy and care for your body
Choose to do something that helps you physically feel well each day.
- Get into motion today;
- Explore a new exercise;
- Run a little farther;
- Work with a trainer (Mike, of course);
- Eat ‘clean’ or get some extra sleep.
Deepen your relationships
Choose to do something that connects you to others and enhances your relationships every day.
- Call a friend and share from your heart;
- Make a ‘reconnection’ date with your partner;
- Create a Love List (list at least 10 reasons you love and appreciate someone in your life, makes an amazing gift).
Reconnect to meaning and your ‘why’
Choose to recognize and celebrate meaning in your day to day life.
- Write down how your job/family contribution is meaningful to you;
- Create a “Why I get up in the morning” statement;
If you struggle with enjoying your life, with moving in the direction of meaning and happiness, I would be honored to support you in creating a fulfilled and authentic life. Give me a call at 415.699.4286 or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.