How to find meaning in your life
Ever wonder what the meaning of life is all about? How do we find meaning in our lives when we work, in say, a factory doing the same thing over and over? Or running a cash register at a retail business? Or teaching children who are totally disengaged? Basically, you could add any job to this list. How do we find meaning in any of them?
Maybe we’re applying meaning to the wrong thing
When the Jews were all herded into prison/death camps during World War II, they were stripped of everything. All their possessions were taken away, they no longer had a name, but a number. Their clothes were gone and they were given ill-fitting uniforms, or the castoffs of the dead, mismatched and tattered. Whatever their profession had been didn’t matter any more. They were nothing but chattel in the eyes of their captors. In Viktor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning, he says they lost what they thought had meaning and soon found that meaning actually came from love, humor, kindness, and being human. Granted, not all prisoner’s grasped this, but those who did, and were not gassed or killed otherwise, they were the ones who fought to live, to keep going no matter how horrific the conditions. By the way, his book is really good.
Finding meaning as we age
For many years in my life, I defined myself by my jobs in education and I sometimes slide back into that if I think someone doesn’t take me seriously as a writer and health coach. I’ll slip in that I was an educator and administrator, to give myself more credence. How about you? Funny how we think others won’t find meaning in us if we aren’t doing something important. But this is what I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, instead of concentrating on what I own, how I look, or defining myself by my profession, I think about thinking, creating, working on my inner self more than the superficial outer things. I have to find meaning for myself and it’s not in others, it’s not in stuff, or jobs, it’s my inner life and how I view the world and act in the world. This is what brings me meaning and all of us meaning.
Are you finding meaning?
There’s a book by Seth Godin, entitled Linchpin, in which he talks about being indispensable at your job, no matter what the job might be. Everyone should read this book, but I would especially recommend it for young people as he explains why you need the best at what you do even if it’s washing dishes. So why am I recommending this when I just said your job is not what’s important? Because we all need to show up in life and be the best we can be at living. We have to grow and stretch our minds and be indispensable in our own life. This is how we find meaning. By living in the moment. Through being the best we can be and by creating a life of love, kindness, wonder and caring.