Here’s an idea: finding a meaning for your life – making sense of it – beats happy. Recent research points to one thing: doing things that make you happy, makes you happier. But finding meaning makes you meaningful-er. And that will sustain you in the long term. A lady called Emily Esfahni Smith has written a book, The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters, so you don’t have to.
So here’s a few ‘meaning of life’ shortcuts. Because who has time to morph into a philosopher?
Belong to a group: Like The Midult. No really, if you are part of something, some tribe, some entity, you will feel better. Smith uses a cheerful example about war and suicide: suicide levels go down in times of war because people feel united. This is extreme. But…
Give your work purpose: Brace yourselves for a particularly worthy anecdote. In 1962 President Kennedy visits NASA. He runs into a guy emptying a bin. The president asks the guy what he’s doing – which is odd in itself but that conversation is for another time. The man replies, “Helping put a man on the moon.” So whatever you are doing, find the purpose in it.
Craft your story: Become the superhero of your life. Take centre stage. Be the leading lady. Putting others first ultimately teaches them – and you – that you deserve to come second. Don’t let sticky parts of your narrative derail others. We find therapy helps with that.
Transcendence: Nature is big. Your problems are small. And repeat.
So there you are. The meaning of life. For beginners…