It’s a fact that right now, in our world, more people feel hopeless, depressed, and alone. There is just an emptiness that’s gnawing away at people, and it doesn’t mean they are all clinically depressed, there are just needs that are not getting met.
Sooner or later, I think we all wonder: Is this all there is? This despair and a lack of happiness?
Right now, in the current state of the world, I say what’s driving this is more so a lack of having meaning in life. We can, and usually do define happiness as a state of comfort and ease, feeling good in the moment. Meaning, however, goes so much deeper. Meaning comes from belonging to, serving something beyond yourself, and from developing the best parts of you, on the inside.
As a whole people are obsessed with happiness, but what I realized on my own journey is that seeking meaning is the more fulfilling path. And believe it or not, studies show that people who have meaning in life are more resilient, they do better in school and at work, have more fulfilling relationships, and they even live longer.
I ask myself and the people I work with a version of this question often. How can we each live more meaningfully? I’ve spent 7 years reading thousands of pages of psychology, and philosophy to bring it all together and I found that there are many ways to create a meaningful life. In fact, we have spent the past few episodes in Strengthening Your Resilience, Life Unfolding discussing them, starting with inspiring our personal development through rewriting the storytelling in our heads and personal transcendence, finding life fulfillment in our drive and understanding our purpose, and now just in this last week, we began looking at fine-tuning our meaning in the pursuit of happiness seeking belonging and being of service.
Belonging comes from being in relationships where you are valued for who you are intrinsically and where you value others as well. But some groups and relationships deliver a not so attractive form of belonging; meaning your value is seen as what you believe, perhaps for who you hate, and not for who you truly are. True belonging springs from love, trust, commitment, encouragement, and unconditional positive regard. It exists in moments between individuals, it's a choice -- you can choose to see it living in your life, you can choose to cultivate belonging with others or you can choose to continue the unfulfilled path you are sitting on.
But what makes people change their stories? The determined, they do whatever it takes. Some people get help, others can do it on their own. You can too, just be willing to reflect on your life thoughtfully, because you will need to know how your defining experiences shaped you, what you lost, and what you gained. That's what I did.
Now I must warn you, stories don’t just change overnight; it could take years and be painful. After all, we have all suffered, and we all have challenges. But embracing those painful memories is what led me to new insights and wisdom, to finding that greatness within that sustains me. I see the purpose, belonging, meaning, and transcendence in my life every day. The things I endured were so I could be here today doing the work that I do with the ability to connect, understand, and empathize with those needing to belong as well.
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Reach out and Be well