Living a meaningful life is something that we all strive for. We want to feel like we’re doing something with purpose and making a difference in this big world.
Unfortunately, many of us get lost along the way and end up feeling emptiness and dissatisfaction. Many turn to addictions to fill this void once they have lost their sense of meaningfulness and purpose.
It might be difficult to see how you wound up here — as difficult as it can seem to know where to start to turn things around. You never had a handbook for life to rely on, and you don’t have one now — none of us do.
Still, as you begin this recovery process, you can look to others who have gone before you for guidance. And you can find support, direction, and inspiration in a few key values for meaning-centred living.
The following values are ones you can practice in your daily life to help you find more meaning when you feel like you’ve lost your way and forgotten what to focus on.
One of the most important values for meaning-centred living is compassion. This means having understanding and empathy for yourself and others. It’s about being kind and caring, even when things are tough.
How to practice compassion:
- Make an effort to see things from other people’s perspectives.
- Try to be understanding when someone is going through a difficult time.
- Offer words of encouragement or support when someone is struggling.
This value is all about accepting yourself — flaws and all. It’s about giving yourself grace and understanding and being tolerant of your mistakes.
How to practice self-acceptance:
- Make a list of things you like about yourself — things you’re proud of.
- Focus on your positive qualities, and work on accepting the negative ones.
- Try to be gentle with yourself, and avoid beating yourself up for your mistakes.
- Be mindful of your thoughts and try to catch yourself when you’re too hard on yourself.
- Talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend — with kindness and understanding.
- Make an effort to do things that make you happy and help you relax.
This value is similar to compassion, but it’s more about having understanding for yourself. It’s about giving yourself the benefit of the doubt and trusting your instincts. It’s about seeing both sides of every situation and recognizing that there are always multiple perspectives.
How to practice understanding:
- Recognize that there are always multiple perspectives, and try to see all sides of every issue.
- Don’t be too quick to judge yourself or others.
- Give yourself the benefit of the doubt.
- Ask yourself what you would say to a friend in the same situation.
This value is all about having a sense of meaning and direction in your life. It’s about making a difference in the world, starting with yours.
How to practice purpose:
- Figure out what you’re passionate about or something that you enjoy, and dedicate time and energy to pursuing it. It’s okay if you don’t know what that is yet or need some new ideas. Ask yourself if there is something you have been wanting to try but haven’t yet, or if there is a topic or hobby that always grabs your attention, but you have yet to explore.
- Look for opportunities to volunteer or give back. Volunteering is a significant factor in our psychological and social well-being and can create a sense of meaning.
- Cultivate emotions like awe and gratitude to help steer your life towards purpose. Reflecting on our blessings can be a powerful motivator in feeling called to “pay it forward.” But no matter what, it helps us foster energy and motivation to carry out our purposeful goals.
Moving Forward with Meaning
It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of self-destruction and lose your way when you’ve lost sight of what to focus on. These values can guide you through living a more meaning-centred life because there is a purpose in your existence that you are worthy of discovering.