How do I find more meaning out of life?

Q:

How do I find more meaning out of life?

A:

It is natural to want to feel seen, heard and valued. However, there is a cultural obsession these days with the self that goes far beyond these basic human desires. The question of what we want, expect or feel we deserve seems to run most people’s thinking, influencing everything from their buying choices and social media posts to their intimate relationships. It’s mostly "all about me!" But seeking personal gratification and validation, status and praise, does not lead to true fulfillment or a lasting sense of meaning and purpose in life.

(Related question: What advice can you give those of us looking for our life's purpose?)

A meaningful relationship happens when we connect authentically with another. We don’t think about what they can do for us or how we will be perceived being with them. We don’t just talk at them, focusing solely on our own agendas. We ask questions of them and engage in shared experiences. We listen compassionately and attentively, offering our full presence to each conversation. We think of ways to draw out what is best in them, and encourage them when they feel low. Offering genuine care and love to the people around us is the greatest way to give life more meaning.

Additionally, selfless service (seva) brings deeper purpose to life. Studies have shown that as we look for ways to serve the needs of others, we benefit by increased levels of happiness and sense of meaning. This could be accomplished through a volunteer activity, such as serving meals at a homeless shelter, or providing company to a hospice patient. Or it could be accomplished by more intentionally tuning in to the needs of those in our immediate circle whom we can directly effect on a daily basis. Loving service uplifts the giver as well as the receiver.

(Related question: How can I practice seva in my daily life?)

Pursuing work, social causes or creative expression that we feel passionate about will also increase our feeling of value and consequence. These can become service as we dedicate our time, love and energy to anything greater than self. By loving and serving in many diverse ways, we are sure to experience more meaning in life and a deeper connection to all those around us.

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Written by Jennie Lee
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Jennie Lee is an author and Certified Yoga Therapist with 20 years experience teaching Classical Yoga & Meditation. Author of Breathing Love: Meditation in Action and True Yoga: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness and Spiritual Fulfillment, she is a compassionate coach for students who want to apply the deeper teachings of yoga to their goals and challenges on and off the mat. Her writing has been featured in Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, Yoga Therapy Today and more. She coaches on the island of O'ahu, and by phone or Skype internationally. Full Bio