Do you ever find yourself feeling like you’re just chugging along through life, with no set goals in mind or no pleasure in your day to day activities? You might feel like your work, studies or family life hold no meaning for you, but you are obligated to carry on with them for duty’s sake. For some of us, these feelings may be transient and occasional, isolated to the days when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. For others, they may be more permanent and chronic. If you are in the latter category, how do you seek meaning and find motivation in your life?
The famous philosopher Nietzsche had said “he who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Having meaning in life gives us the strength and motivation to get over the obstacles and difficulties that are thrown at us because we have a sense of what is at stake. People who know their purpose in life tend to have less stress and are more satisfied with who they are and where they are going. Although talking to others can help you to unearth the things that drive you, only you will be able to assign meaning to your life or your activities and derive joy from doing so. Here are some things you can think about if you are feeling like you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing with your life:
Daily activities: Whether you work, have a business, are a stay-at-home parent or a student, try to find a connection between what you do and something bigger. Even if you have a job that you feel is taking you nowhere, think about how your work is integral to your team or how your company may be responding to social needs. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, think about the pivotal role that you hold in shaping and educating your child as they start the journey of life. If, on the other hand, you are a student feeling like your degree may not translate into anything worthwhile, consider what drove you into your field of study in the first place and what impassions you about it. You may not end up with a job in your field of study straight away, but you can still enjoy the process of learning in a milieu of like-minded souls.
Giving back: If you are unable to find meaning in your daily activities, you can consider taking part in an activity that will enable you to give back. Whether it’s by spending time with an elderly family member, or volunteering at the local shelter, being there for someone else will make you feel needed and appreciated. Helping to make someone’s life better can lend meaning to your life and deep-rooted satisfaction. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to engage in a voluntary activity, you can employ the principles of giving back in your everyday life. Spend a quick minute asking the cashier at your grocery store about their day. Or give a genuine thanks to the bus driver for their services. These little connections can make you feel more engaged in the world around you and provide a sense of and connectivity.
Legacy: Think about how you want your life to be and how you want to be remembered by those around you. What would you like them to say about you or which accomplishments do you want them to talk about? You can write out some of these things and evaluate if you they are realistic and if you are on the way to achieving them. Think about the things that you can do to try to reach those goals. This might help to create some sub-goals that can drive you towards a destination in life that is meaningful to you.
At the end of the day, it isn’t easy to be satisfied with your life every single day. Situations will bring you down, people will hurt you and you will be disappointed in yourself. You will ask yourself, “why bother?” or feel like giving up. However, to pick yourself up and carry on, as hard as it might be at times, is something that we all need to work on and do for ourselves. How we choose to view our lives and what meaning we choose to assign to our lives ends up being our decision. If you are having a hard time finding this meaning, spend some time reflecting on your life and the choices that you have made, and hopefully you will be able to seek out the significance behind them!