FIND MEANING & PURPOSE: PART 2
Four more ways to find meaning & purpose in life
Today, many people are looking for a sense of purpose and are exploring the meaning of life: why they exist. And many people look to some future point, expecting the meaning and purpose to come somewhere during their life journey. In Part 1 of Find Meaning and Purpose, we explored four of the eight simple ways to find more meaning and purpose in life right now, through practical activities.
1. Finding moments of significance, 2. Performing random acts of kindness, 3. Living your life according to your
values, 4. Holding a higher purpose. In Find Meaning and Purpose: Part 2, we will explore the other four simple ways to help you find meaning and purpose in life.
5. Set up a project that you think is important – get creative
Design a project that allows you to contribute to a wider group and serve others, meeting their needs, to fill a gap that your heart was aware of and you felt that you just had to act on. What needs are you aware of that speak to your heart? What can you do to meet those needs? It may be joining an existing movement or creating one of your own. Acting to meet others needs is a great way to bring meaning and purpose to your own life.
6. Connect with others
David Whittier, discussing the work of David Rock, suggests that as human beings we have a core need to belong and deeply connect with others. Challenging the long-held model expressed as
“Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”, it is now suggested that social connection is one of our basic safety needs, along with food, safety and shelter. If we fail to connect, then we might presume that we would reduce our ability to find meaning. In today’s digital age, it is easy to disconnect. Maybe now more than ever before there is a risk that in connecting on line rather than in person, we may lose sight of our meaning and purpose in the world. Today then, reflect on how you can connect deeply with others – on purpose – then act to make it happen.
7. Transcending trauma
No one is without pain and suffering to some degree in their lives. Indeed, it is only by being able to feel painful emotions, that we can fully experience nurturing and pleasant emotions. As such, our goal is not to prevent any pain or suffering, but to be able to transcend it and find meaning within that suffering, pain or trauma. Probably one of the most famous examples of this is, ‘Man’s Search for
Meaning’ written by Viktor Frankl, describing his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about. The key message here is that no one can choose our attitude for us when we face adversity. Using support, take time to heal old wounds and find meaning and purpose in even the darkest of times in your life.
8. Taking time to experience awe
As a child we are captivated by life: nature, fun, joy. We express awe at simple things: a rainbow, a kitten, seeing a relative after a period. Research shows that by reconnecting with that sense of awe and wonder, we can find meaning. Take time to slow down and be mindful of the world around us, instead of rushing through it and missing the blessings it has to offer. This is strongly related to gratitude.
Gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and through happiness we are able to get back in touch with meaning due to being in a positive emotional state. Take time today to experience awe in the everyday and feel gratitude for that.
Dr Suzanne Henwood is the Director and Lead Coach and Trainer of mB raining 4 Success. She is also the CEO of The Healthy Workplace and a Master Trainer and Master Coach of mBIT (Multiple Brain Integration Techniques) and can be contacted via her website.