6 Tips for Finding More Meaning in Everything You Do
You’re busy. You’re tired. You’re put upon. You’re everything but satisfied with the mundane activities that define your day-to-day.
You want more — but you have no idea where to find it.
Maybe you needn’t look very far. Perhaps the elusive Meaning you’ve been seeking in your personal and professional life is right under your nose.
People who’ve successfully overcome existential drift have followed these six strategies (among others). Perhaps it’s time you did the same.
- Be Honest With Yourself
Know what you’re good at – and what you’re best off relying on others to achieve. Then, organize your goals and activities around those strengths. If that means switching jobs or cutting ties with toxic people in your life, so be it. No one said meaning is easy.
- Bring Confidence to Your Internal Monologue
Drown out those doubts, no matter how convincing they sound. Your internal monologue is just as likely to be a source of second-guessing as of inspiration.
“It doesn’t make sense to compromise the integrity and effectiveness of the search for a rewarding life with a disturbed and disturbing second voice – the anxious, illusion-filled and antagonistic internal chatter,” writes Arnold Siegel, noted American philosopher and founder of Autonomy and Life.
Listen to yourself – but not at the expense of your self-confidence.
- Follow the Mission
Mission is meaning. Find an occupation that you believe in, not one that merely pays the bills and keeps food on the table. Ditto for your extracurricular pursuits – trading the golf clubs for the soup ladle opens doors you never knew existed.
- Give Back, Even When It’s Not Convenient
A seminal Stanford University study found that “happiness” and “meaning” are very different.
“Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker,” study principal Jennifer Aaker told Stanford News.
To oversimplify: happy people are selfish; people who find meaning in the everyday are generous.
Happy people can surely be generous, and vice versa. But one clear takeaway here is that there’s meaning to be found in everyday acts of kindness. You don’t have to donate your entire paycheck to charity or cut ties with everyone you love to serve the poor overseas. If you want to find a ready-made source of meaning in your day-to-day life, you just have to be a decent person.
- Do Things That Aren’t Comfortable
For some people, generosity doesn’t come naturally and isn’t particularly comfortable. Even if you’d give a stranger on the street the shirt off your back without a moment’s hesitation, you can probably come up with a long list of acts and activities that fall well outside your comfort zone. For instance, perhaps you’re not much of a cook. Or you prefer television to reading for pleasure. Or you’ve never met an outdoor activity you liked. Flip any of these preferences and you have your recipe for an uncomfortable experience that forces you to appreciate its meaning.
- Learn to Live With Less
When you have less in your life, everything that remains means more. The clutter in our homes (and garages, and storage units, and vehicles, and…) exerts a deep, powerful psychological pull on us. It’s hard to get rid of stuff. But getting rid of the stuff we don’t need is an important step in our quest for meaning. Spend a weekend going through your home’s storage spaces and applying the “joy” test: if it doesn’t give you joy, chuck it. You’ll be shocked by how little you really need, not to mention relieved that everything you’ve kept holds some special meaning.
Do you have other ways you cope with the mundane? Please share in the comments box below.