The following excerpt is from a chapter of my book: The Power to Navigate Life – Your Journey to Freedom.
“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” – Joseph Campbell
Many people believe that to give meaning to life requires a pilgrimage to a desolate part of the world, working with indigenous tribes and being of service. While I do not discount the value of this selfless work, the truth is that we can give meaning to our life through our own power to define what is important to us.
You already have the power to create meaning and purpose in your life, not so much in what you do, but in what it means to you and the meaning you attach to it. For instance a person sweeping floors can define their life as being meaningful if the money they earn provides adequate food and shelter for their family. What you do does not create the meaning—it is the meaning you assign to what you do that is important. The meaning you hold toward something is represented from a deeper place within you. That is to say that the act or thing does not in itself define you.
For example, many people arrive at a crossroad in their life, which is generally around middle age where they feel they must achieve a certain status or have acquire a certain level of recognition. They cleverly recite their rewards and achievements believing all too well that having accomplished or acquired these things, that they will be more content and have achieved their purpose in life.
In truth, many of these same people feel a sense of lack and emptiness because the pursuit or goal was not imbued with passion and purpose. They failed to acknowledge the deeper meaning behind why they set out to achieve that goal in the first place. They lost their way in the pursuit of it. You have the power to create and define the meaning you attach to everything you do—including your life’s purpose—by creating it yourself. It might contradict what society defines as successful but does it really matter?
Even defining success in itself is arbitrary and may be challenged in many ways. Success is not something you acquire as it remains elusive if you pursue it. Success is a state of being. You can be successful handing out mailbox letter drops if it brings you happiness and fulfilment. Society has attempted to place a square around what it values as a success and for this reason there are many wealthy, unhappy and unfulfilled people. These same people find joy and happiness when they lose themselves in service to others through volunteer work or any social community charitable work.
The key is to not allow yourself to be defined by what others view as success, since in doing so, you will be living up to an unattainable goal, one that you will never reach. Redefine success by giving it your definition as opposed to someone else’s. The more we attempt to live by a set of rules and precepts, the more we are under the influence of other’s ideals. It is essential that one defines their own level of success and not aim to achieve success but rather to become and embody success. Have you ever noticed that successful people attract successful situations and events into their life? This is not because of who they are but because of who they are being.
So to create meaning in one’s life, it is important that you simplify your life by finding out what is important to you. I suggest that you make a list and take the time to contemplate what the most important aspects of your life are and eliminate anything which competes against the pursuit of this importance. For example, if you list health, family, relationships and career, then you have a strong representation of what brings you fulfilment, joy and happiness since these are the areas where you feel most appreciated and rewarded. It holds value that you would spend and allocate much of your resources and energy tending toward these aspects of your life and subsequently give less energy toward other areas of your life.
Simplify life by determining what is important to you. Old people will tell you that they wish they could have given more time and energy to those things that were important to them.
Finally, to give meaning and purpose to your life, choose to live by a set of principles, beliefs and values which are uniquely yours. Do not be swayed or coerced into believing what others believe just because it is the popular thing to do. This will never get you far in life. Some people spend their entire life buying into a concept of what is right for them to find that they had it all wrong after all.