When we think of living a meaningful life, we somehow end up wishing for and thinking of a life that is pain-free, devoid of any struggles, mishaps, and all the unpleasant, unwated crap that comes along with it.
And that’s only fair. After all, our entire existence hovers around moving away from pain and moving toward pleasure.
However, I have noticed that we knowingly and unknowingly end up focusing more on what we don’t want—on moving away from things, people, and situations that we find unpleasant or painful—without really giving ourselves a back up of what we actually want to move toward.
A well-meaning life or life in general will never be devoid of any struggle, pain, or anguish. Those are, in fact, existential realities. We just cannot do away with them.
However, what we can do is shift our focus, expand our vision to include more of the things, people, and experiences that make us feel that even though there is tremendous amount of struggle and truck loads of crap to deal with, it’s still worthwhile. In life, there is a beginning and an end.
The middle is up to us—the meaning we choose to give it or want to give it, along with the accessories that life hands to us that we don’t want. Yet, we must find a way to derive a meaning out of that as well.
“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.” ~ Anais Nin
In fact, if there were no struggles, no hard times, losses, or difficult experiences, we wouldn’t have learnt anything. Our essence wouldn’t have bloomed. We would have never known what all we are capable of—our good , our bad, and even the ugly.
We wouldn’t have learnt the art of embracing ourselves, accepting others and situations, holding on and letting go.
Life is but an endless journey of holding on to what we love the most and letting go of what has lived out its purpose, and in between these acts lies our meaning.
We simply need to focus inward and find it from within because this meaning is and will never be external.
It will always be our soul’s voice.
I have come to understand that these few things enable us to create and ascribe meaning to our lives:
>> Losing ourselves in this puddle of life and then finding ourselves back again and again—only to realise that we are never the same. We are always changing, growing, and evolving—sometimes for the better and sometimes not!
>> Exploring and living out our heart’s desires—there lies an innate joy in letting the child within us be free and explore the world through its talents and abilities.
>> Building loving relationships—yes, we talk so much about toxic relationships, the bad and the horrible ones. But what about the good ones? It’s only when we focus on the joy that the good ones bring, we are able to let love flow through and within us.
>> Wading through challenging waters—challenge, difficulty, turbulence is important. Discomfort and pain are great teachers only if we allow them that honor.
>> Establishing boundaries—so that we know and can choose what we want to let in. Boundaries teach us what matters to us and conveys that to others as well.
>> Opening our heart to someone—having someone to share our thoughts and emotions with indeed adds more meaning to our lives, to our existence. We perhaps don’t need an army of people. Just one or two or a few who can understand us and are willing to walk the journey with us.
As Eliz Farnham said, “The ultimate aim of the human mind, in all its efforts, is to become acquainted with truth.”
The truth is that we have one life. It is what we decide to make of it. The meaning of our lives is for us to give.