So, what IS meaningful then?

Contemplating how to live a more meaningful life can be easier said than done for many of us. How do we define “meaning” anyway? It is often not so easy to articulate, even to ourselves, what really has value and meaning to us.

In my last post, I mentioned the inner wisdom that often comes to the surface when many people are suddenly faced with their own mortality. What are some common themes that emerge from this newly discovered self-awareness of what is really important in our lives? Is there anything we can learn from these themes to help us live a more meaningful life NOW.

There are certain areas of our lives that consistently come to light as being most meaningful to people at the end of their lives. Common themes voiced by the terminally ill include a wish to have spent more time with their children when they were young; regrets over not having stayed in touch with more friends and family; not having forgiven someone when the opportunity was given to do so; the desire to not have let fear get in the way of trying new experiences; and the courage to live the lives they wanted, as opposed to what others expected of them.

These are the type of insights into what is truly meaningful, which are often the result of the insight and wisdom brought to the surface at the end of many a life. Here’s the question- Why wait? Why wait until our final days to tap into our own wisdom to live a happier, more meaningful life NOW and for the rest of our days?

Here’s something that can help get us started:

Picture a 90-year-old version of yourself contemplating what really matters in your life and what does not. What advice would you give to the “younger you” if you could go back in time and do so?

Use this thought exercise to compile a list of what is meaningful in your life. Afterwards, ask yourself one question: What are one or two small changes I can make right now in starting to live my life according to what is really of value to me?

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