The 2 Key Components of a Meaningful Life
Does anything matter at all?
Well sure, there are things that matter.
But they're up to you to figure out.
And that's the problem, isn't it?
How do you figure out what's important to you--and what isn't?
When most people talk about mental health, they focus on the surface layer, on emotions and behaviors.
Sometimes thoughts come into play.
But what about meaning?
Meaning is critical to living a healthy life.
Let's figure out this meaningful-life thing together.
In a few minutes, you'll know the two key components of a meaningful life.
Getting Meaning All Wrong
When I was a young adult, I went through a process that, I assume, most people go through.
I thought that certain things would make me happy.
I thought, if only I have more money...
Or, if I only I get that job...
It was all about getting more, about attracting the right kinds of objects, people, and situations to me.
And yes, there were familiar themes that popped up--becoming famous, being admired by others, having more money than I knew what to do with.
But are these things at the heart of a meaningful life?
I thought they were.
Some people will try to tell you that they are.
But I'm here to tell you that no, they most definitely are not.
Where Meaning Comes From
What happens when you go after something shiny and attractive like money or admiration from others?
It feels good in the moment--ok, maybe several moments--but then what happens?
That happiness is fleeting.
The feelings you seek are elusive.
It's a like a beautiful, golden bird landing on your shoulder. It's so nice to be in possession of something so wonderful, but eventually you learn that a bird is born to fly, not to be responsible for your ongoing happiness.
Because happiness is a mirage--it can be grasped for mere moments in the shifting world in front of you, but how you find something with more stability?
You have to look within.
And this is where meaning comes into play.
The 2 Components of a Meaningful Life
Now, creating a life of meaning is your task.
I can only point you in the right direction based on what's worked for me.
You can read about meaning. You can talk about meaning. You can even create a song and dance about meaning.
But it's not until you've committed to this task and made it your own that will realize how important meaning is to your mental health.
For me, meaning comes down to a few things.
One, it's about committing myself to something that I would do, no matter what. This newsletter, The Mental Health Update, is a huge part of that. I've fallen in love with the process of writing and sharing what I've learned.
Yes, I have some members who support me, but I would do this--and I have done this--without being paid for it. Deep down in my heart, I don't want others to feel the way I felt when I didn't have access to helpful mental health information. That's why I try to make mental health information as accessible and meaningful as possible.
The meaning is baked into the hours of time I spend writing each week.
Second, and I think this is especially important, is the context. Would this writing mean anything if I had no one to share it with?
Sure, it might mean something, but the meaning is only enhanced when I connect with you, the reader, another human being like me, just trying to figure it all out in life.
I now get to discuss mental health with old friends, with family members, and with strangers-turned-friends all over the world. It seems like a dream--but it's not.
The often-missed component of a meaningful life is "for whom" and "with whom."
Who are the people you want to be around?
What is your relationship with them?
Emotions, thoughts, and behaviors mean very little if they happen within a vacuum.
It's the people that makes them come alive. Everything must be considered in its proper context.
So, let's review.
Commit to something grand, something that makes you come alive.
Then, share that work with the world. Allow others to deepen your understanding of it.
That's what has worked for me, and it seems almost too simplistic.
But the simple stuff is what will change your life.
Meaning comes from within, but it's shaped and solidified by the world around you.
Your task is find what makes your heart sing.
Then, go share it with the world.