Since the rewards that come from achieving a significant life goal are often attained in the future, it is important to formulate concrete goals and also to identify the small steps toward them (see Trope and Liberman, 2003). The idea is that by making concrete plans and identifying obstacles (if-then plans), people are better able to visualize their desired future and will be less tempted to engage in activities that distract them from their goal (Mischel, 1996; Mischel and Ayduk, 2004). According to a research study that looked at meaning in life, the study expressed the positive psychological and physiological benefits[1] linked to humans feeling meaningful. For instance, meaning reduces the risk of mental health problems and improves physical health. Besides the concept that meaning boosts one’s general well-being, the sense of purpose and that life matters and is significant are other reasons why humans look for meaning. Below we provide broad outlines of one such evidence-based intervention, having first set out in brief the case for this particular intervention.

Other researchers found that well-being might be protective for health maintenance. In that research, people with the strongest well-being were 30% less likely to die during the eight-and-a-half-year follow-up period. Take time to reflect on what being human means according to your experience so far. Think about the meaningful moments you’ve experienced, and ask yourself what values can be learnt from them. Then think about how to bring those values into your everyday life. This will only cause stress, and can block your ability to enjoy the little things that give meaning to life.

Ikigai, Meaning in Life, and Life Crafting

However, constructs first need to be defined before they can be measured. You find the intersection point between what you’re good at, what you’re interested in, what you believe the world needs, and what you’d like to share with people. Find the intersection point between what you’re good at, what you’re interested in, what you believe the world needs, and what you’d like to share with people (as a means of serving others and doing something bigger than yourself). And through that purpose, you bring meaning to what you do.

When we tell our story we are likely to focus on the most extraordinary (good and bad) events in our life. These are the experiences we need to make sense of, because they tell us what’s really significant. Putting the disparate pieces of our lives into a coherent narrative allows us to understand our life as a whole. Of course, Ted is far from being alone with his existential angst. Many of us are quite successful in pushing our feelings of unease into the background.

Take control of your environment (coherence)

In particular, young adults struggle with the important life decisions they are expected to make as they move into early adulthood (Sloan, 2018). Without such a purpose in life, a lot of time and energy is often “fretted away” on social media and on “busyness,” for instance (Bruch and Ghoshal, 2002, 2004; for a review see Schippers and Hogenes, 2011). At the same time, many people complain of having a lack of time, and it seems that it is more and more important to make conscious decisions on what to spend time on (Menzies, 2005).

how to create meaning in life

If you make use of the tips provided here, you really can create more meaning in your life. Don’t forget to notice the meaning that is already in your life. Maybe you find meaning in that one flower that somehow grew from between the cracks of the sidewalk. Maybe there is meaning in looking over rolling hills that seem to stretch on forever. There are all sorts of little things that can provide meaning if you take the time to notice them. Here are some examples of meaningful situations that many people experience.

Feeling unseen by your boss? Here’s what you can do

Goal direction and mattering  are both motivational components and synonymous with purpose and significance, respectively. The third component – one’s life making sense – is a cognitive component, akin to significance. Although ‘meaningfulness’ is often confounded with other constructs such as purpose, coherence, and happiness, some researchers argue that these constructs are not interchangeable, but instead form a complex relationship and exist separately. Living a meaningful life and deciding what is meaningful are age-old questions (e.g., Marcus Aurelius wrestled with this question when he was Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD). Some values may be closer to your heart and more personally meaningful than others.

how to create meaning in life

He’s still together with his childhood friend Hanna Prater, with whom he has two kids. There is, however, also a difference between harmonious and obsessive passion (for a meta-analysis, see Vallerand et al., 2003; Curran et al., 2015). People with an obsessive work passion experience more conflict between work and other areas of life, and work is more related to their self-worth (Vallerand et al., 2003). Harmonious passion was shown to be related to positive outcomes such as flow and enhanced performance, whereas obsessive passion was related more to negative outcomes, such as excessive rumination and decreased vitality (Curran et al., 2015). Habits and routine are physical ways in which you can build a greater sense of coherence in your life, and even work towards fulfilling your purpose. Consider what you value in life and try to create predictable routines you can consistently follow.

If you have no idea where to even start, try this exercise from Verywell Mind. It’s meant for people struggling with borderline personality disorder, but it works on anyone. After all, perhaps a certain kind of spontaneous wandering with no specific purpose is what gives your life meaning. So, to put it shortly, to live meaningfully is to live with purpose. You can be useful once you leverage your skills to make a difference in the lives of others.

What is making meaning therapy?

Meaning Therapy focuses on the positive psychology of making life worth living in spite of sufferings and limitations. It advocates a psycho-educational approach to equip clients with the tools to navigate the inevitable negatives in human existence and create a preferred future.

If you’re struggling to understand the question “what is the meaning of life”, you’re not alone. Significance is the third dimension of meaning that focuses on the inherent value and worth of one’s life. Essentially, the significance of life could be an evaluation of one’s own life and how much one feels it is valuable, or worthwhile. When all is said and done, we all live within networks of stories. As such, they help us to discover memories that have been waiting to be told. In that respect, stories are invaluable in bringing up the questions that define the meaning that we give to our lives.

The people you surround yourself with say something about you. If you’re surrounded by people who are making positive change, you might draw from their inspiration. Don’t think about co-workers or family members you feel obligated to see.

  • We start by assessing existing interventions aimed at setting personal goals and will explore the theoretical and evidence-based foundation for those interventions.
  • However, the second variation of this question – how we find meaning in life – is psychological and of more interest to us.
  • Meanwhile, a near-death experience, the death of a loved one, getting diagnosed with a disease, and the loss of a job are all negative experiences that can make you question if you are truly living a life worth living.
  • The brain is wired to be social, and humans are designed to live together with others.