When something has meaning, it has a purpose; it is significant. Likewise, a life that has meaning feels purposeful and significant. Scientific studies have shown that those who feel their lives are meaningless are likely to suffer from depression and self-destructive tendencies, while those who feel their lives are meaningful are more likely to have a sense of joy and satisfaction with life. Adding meaning to life is not an exact science, but it is possible to develop a meaningful life for yourself if you are willing to put some time and consideration into the process. Follow these steps to add meaning to your life.
1. Contemplate your beliefs. Examining the nature of reality is a foundation for discovering your purpose in life, and only when you find a purpose will you feel a deeper meaning of life. Consider the following:
Higher power. Regardless of your religion (or lack thereof), a meaningful life involves understanding your role in something bigger, whether it be Christianity, mother nature or the universe.
Human nature. Consider how you feel about the positive and negative aspects of human nature, and what you believe about human equality or inequality. For example, you may believe that human beings are all basically the same, and that they all deserve love and understanding, or you may believe that human worth is individualistic, based on characteristics that you identify as valuable.
2. Assess your values. Decide what is important to you, in relation to the world as you believe it to be. Things like altruism, honesty, leadership, determination, love, conformity, professionalism, entertainment and wealth are just several varied examples of values that a person may subscribe to.
3. Identify your purpose. Take into account your beliefs and values, then decide how you may apply those to your lifestyle in a productive (purposeful) way. Your purpose is multi-dimensional, encompassing the many different aspects of your belief and value systems. For example, you may believe in a God and that all humans are inherently equal, and you may value education and sacrifice. Therefore, your purpose may be to teach others, spread your religion, be a student, advocate for human rights and contribute to helping the underprivileged.
4. Consider the 6 dimensions of wellness and how you might develop each in a way that will increase your feeling of purpose in life. Choose activities from each category that align with your purpose for a well-rounded approach to improving your life's meaning. Note that these categories overlap, and that it is possible to develop more than 1 dimension with the same activity.
*Social wellness involves how you interact with people and how you relate to your community. Activities that fit into social wellness include developing new relationships and volunteering.
*Spiritual wellness has to do with developing your sense of a higher power and defining your moral values. In order to find more meaning in life through spiritual wellness, you may opt to attend church, take a philosophy class or learn yoga.
*Intellectual wellness involves expanding your knowledge, understanding and mental acuity. Any experience that requires you to learn something new or broaden your perspective, such as working towards a goal or going to school, will help develop your intellectual wellness.
*Environmental wellness has to do with how you relate to your surroundings. To add to your purpose in life through environmental wellness, participate in activities like recycling, hiking and gardening.
*Physical wellness encompasses your physical health and fitness. Develop greater physical wellness by exercising and eating healthy foods.
*Emotional wellness applies to your self esteem and how you handle life's stressors. To improve your emotional wellness, get further in touch with your inner self through things like meditation and counseling.