Today, let us wish each other a Happy New Year, but also that we may make it meaningful. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
OK, so I’m a little bit behind the times. I even missed my Three Year Anniversary for my blog, which happened at the beginning of this month. Such is life. But there still is the quote.
While this quote is wishing us a Happy 2014, it was also asking us to make it a year full of meaning. But what does that mean? To be full of meaning, that is truly a ‘one size fits all’ expression.
What is meaningful to me may be different from what is meaningful to you, or to the Dalai Lama. Regardless, this quote is a call to live a life which we find meaningful to each of us.
The alternative, of course, is to live a meaningless life. Sadly, there are people who do exactly that. They just drift. I hope that you can find a path forward which is meaningful to you.
Why is a meaningful life important?
As was mentioned above, just drifting from place to place, from job to job, from house to shelter to where-ever else the winds blow you isn’t very meaningful. And to most people, having some meaning in their life is important. That meaning can come from anywhere, and even from multiple aspects of their life.
Some people find meaning in their job. They feel that what they are doing is of some use, and that gives it meaning in their eyes. Others find meaning in helping others. Some find it with their friends and how they interact. Others find it in formal social organizations.
No matter how or where you find meaning, there is something in your life which helps you find this sense of usefulness and purpose. Now take a moment and imagine it was gone. Whatever you do which gives you that feeling, it is no longer available to you. How do you feel inside?
To me, that simple gut-check is all one needs to know to be able to say that they have some meaning in their life. Even if it isn’t something they can do right this moment, the hope of being able to do something meaningful helps us go on with our lives in those times when meaning is in short supply.
Where can I apply this in my life?
To me, this quote is subtly urging us to reflect on our lives. It is asking us if our lives presently have meaning. I believe that it is also asking us to consider how we can take it to the next level, how we can make our lives more meaningful either in depth or in width.
By that I mean to make our lives much more meaningful in one specific area, or to add another area where our lives can be meaningful to ourselves or to others. Where in your life could you add deeper meaning, or where could you add more meaning? I’m serious, what could you do more of, or what else could you do?
We recently had to clean our house, and it’s time to throw stuff out. I’ve recently found t-shirts from back when I was in college. That is scary! Does cleaning house count as making my life more meaningful? I believe so. I am reducing clutter, recycling a lot of stuff I no longer need, and living more deliberately, minimally.
That may not be much to you, perhaps you already went through this, and have found meaning in living deliberately. Perhaps you are comfortable with your level of minimalism, even if it’s closer to macro than mini. But it is one thing I can do, and can teach my children, and that counts too.
Take a moment and go back over the things you thought about earlier, when I asked you what it was that helps you feel useful or gives you purpose. Can you do that same thing, but deeper, harder, or more often? Or perhaps you can find something else, related or not,to do in addition to what you already do?
Take a moment to consider the first option, doing more of what you already do. Can you do it more often? Can you do it for a longer time when you do it? Can you do it with more vigor, feeling, or intensity? How else might you do that same thing, but make it more meaningful? What are the opportunities?
Now consider what other things you could do. Where else in your life can you find meaning? What can you do? What can you contribute? How can you help or assist others? Is there something you always wanted to do? Is there something you have always dreaded, but at which you might do some good?
Today may not be the beginning of a New Year, but it is the first day of the rest of your life. Consider starting this new phase of your life with a renewed commitment to do something meaningful. Who knows whom you might inspire!