August 30, 2014
We all want to find meaning in our lives and live the life to its fullest. But the question remains: how do you find meaning and purpose in your life in the first place? What happens if you just don’t know or get lost along the way? Finding meaning and purpose in life is not as easy. It takes will power to look inside, face your own demons and faults and accept yourself as you are: a perfect-imperfect human being.
Finding your own way
In one of the previous posts we focused on your character strengths and talents. Have you already discovered what they are? What do people compliment you most for? Think about the activities and actions you perform that feel the most satisfying to you. My advice: start making a list and paying attention if nothing comes immediately to mind. You can also complete Dr. Martin Seligman’s online questionnaire (VIA Survey of Character Strengths) about personal strengths and talents and find out a little bit more how that can work in your favor.
Frankly speaking, I had sort of an identity crisis when the time came to choose a major in college. First I decided to go to environmental engineering just to find out after a semester that despite my great love for nature and conservation, I hated it there. All of a sudden, all my certainties and the path I had outlined for myself made no sense! How could I get out of that crisis? After a few weeks of self-reflection and a little of sulking for quitting college (you probably have heard this a lot but I had never quit anything in my life before), I started remembering what it was I most enjoyed doing in life and what people praised me the most for. I’ve always heard people around me saying “It’s so nice to talk to you. After talking to you I feel so relieved.” Besides, I really liked being a volunteer and to do community intervention and teaching. I love reading, so first I thought about becoming an English teacher to inspire others but finally (and with a little help from close friends and family) I decided on psychology. This is how I became a clinical psychologist. This was 15 years ago. I absolutely love my job and my patients and clearly found meaning in my profession.
Yet, your job doesn’t define you. The job is just my example. Many people find meaning in other areas of their lives: family life and raising kids, community work, preserving nature, political and social causes, etc.
Category Search For Meaning Blog | Tags: how to find meaning,life meaning,life of meaning,life of purpose and meaning,Meaning in Life,meaningful life,purpose in life,purposeful life | Comments Off on How to find purpose in your life
July 3, 2014
Isn’t life a bit like taking a trip to some unknown destination? Let’s call our destination Meaning. If your trip is well planned and organized you will want directions to where you are going. But, before you can get those directions you will need to know where you are starting from. This all seems simple enough.
It’s time for a truth test. Have you noticed how we all wear different hats. Sometimes we even wear different hats at the same time. In our haste to find our way to Meaning we often fall victim to the latest “in” terms. Adjectives that we unquestionably accept as true. Some of these adjectives include descriptors like:
“Soccer mom”, “Easy”, “A loud mouth”, “Smart/stupid”, “Fat/skinny/Wow”, “Nerd”, “Friend”, “Rich/poor”, “Lazy/on their way to the top”
Is it any wonder that we get confused about who we are or what our role in life is?
Added to this is a world of contradictions, or mixed messages. Such things as the generation you most identify with, your gender, your position in life, and your level of involvement in the world around you all influence how you filter these mixed messages. Here are just a few of these messages:
“Stop and smell the roses”
“I want the world and I want it now!”
“Don’t sweat the small stuff”
“The truth is in the details”
“It is what it is”
“You’re in charge.”
The last factor holding many of us back from finding our own place called Meaning is our increased dependence on instant gratification. Gone for many is the patience needed to see things through to their logical outcome. It is difficult to have an attachment to things that are disposable.
Category Happiness and Fulfillment, Motivational, Search For Meaning Blog | Tags: a life of meaning,life meaning,Meaning in Life,meaningful life,path to meaning,Search for Meaning | Comments Off on The Search for Meaning: A Road Less Traveled.
May 22, 2014
Frankl’s concepts are based on finding a meaning or purpose in life. He has stated that all life circumstances have meaning, even the ones that are hard or make us miserable. He goes on to state that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”. What does this all mean? In basic terms, it means we may not have the power to control the circumstances into which we are thrust, but we do have the power to control the way in which we think about those circumstances.
Frankl used his views to look at and discuss treatment options for several mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and neurosis. He also used his views to help terminally ill patients. His thoughts regarding mental illness were if we could simply recognize the purpose of our circumstances, we could (possibly) master our mental health issues. Let’s explore this further.
Category Mental Health, Positive Psychology Blog, Search For Meaning Blog | Tags: anxiety cause,cause of anxiety,life meaning,logotherapy,Meaning in Life,purpose in life,purposeful life,Viktor Frankl | Comments Off on What Causes People to Develop Anxiety – According to Frankl
April 9, 2014
by Sue Chehrenegar
If you are searching for the meaning in your life, it can help to study the sunlight reflected in a mirror. Of course, a mirror does not really produce the sun’s rays; it simply reflects them. In the same way, a virtuous and goodly person has the ability to reflect the spiritual qualities that he or she has developed by relating to and sharing with others. In fact, those who strive to achieve that particular goal have managed to discover the meaning in life.
Obviously, the human body does not possess a reflective surface. Still, that does not mean that those who search for the meaning in life would be foolish to consider the fact that mirrors prove most useful when they have been polished properly. In fact, those who are willing to view the heart as a mirror can best understand how to ensure their ability to create a clear reflection of their spiritual qualities.
Polishing removes the dust from a mirror’s surface. It allows the reflected light to shine-threw more clearly. Sometimes the spiritual qualities of the human heart remain unrevealed, because those same qualities have been covered-up by the results of an effort that has failed to focus on life’s true meaning.
Category Happiness and Fulfillment, Motivational, Search For Meaning Blog | Tags: discover meaning in life,life meaning,life of meaning,Meaning in Life,meaningful life,positive psychology,purpose in life,purposeful life | Comments Off on Reflections on a Search for Meaning
March 20, 2014
by Daniela Aneis
Dinosaurs have lived millions of years ago often leaving nothing but their fossilized footprints behind. What if you could also leave a psychological footprint behind? The term psychological footprint used by Whitbourne and Whitbourne (2014) refers to the positive or negative influence you have on others and how that affects their lives and the environment around you. We’ve all had the nature vs. nurture discussion in our lives at some point: is it nurture that defines me or is it nature? But what about your influence in nature and nurture? Your influence in what’s around you? How to measure that?
Leaving something of yourself behind.
You may not see it or even realize it, but you have an impact on your environment. Just by existing at this time and place, you’re changing what’s around you. Let’s try a difficult exercise. Can you imagine what it would be like for everyone you’ve ever met if you had never existed? What would they be missing out? Though one to think through? Don’t worry, that’s just our egocentrism at work. We just can’t imagine a world where we wouldn’t exist! Let’s try an easier one: have you ever asked a close friend what have they learned from you? What has meeting you made them different? Ask and be surprised with the answers. Usually in life it’s the little things that leave great impressions.
What psychological footprints do you have on yourself?
Think about all the people that have inspired and touched your life. Parents, grandparents, your first teacher, your neighbors, your minister, your childhood friends… Ever tried writing them a thank you letter for all the precious moments you’ve had with them? This a powerful exercise that Martin Seligman (the father of Positive Psychology) often does in his classes. At the end of each semester he promotes a little get together between students and the receivers of the letters, where the letters are read out loud and it’s not unusual for tears of joy to run. It’s a very powerful tool in therapy as well specially in grief counselling.
Category Happiness and Fulfillment, Motivational, Positive Psychology Blog, Search For Meaning Blog | Tags: discover meaning in life,life meaning,life of meaning,logotherapy,Meaning in Life,positive psychology,psychological footprints | Comments Off on Psychological footprints: What are you leaving behind?
March 17, 2014
by Karen Fernandes
It is widely agreed among psychologists that a sense of meaning and ‘purpose’ is critical to a healthy psyche. Without a framework to give our lives purpose, we can find ourselves falling into an existential depression (often itself the catalyst for a mid-life crisis) or drifting aimlessly with no sense of direction and no interest anything life has to offer.
Unfortunately, applying meaning to a seemingly random and chaotic universe is not easy for us, and many of the big concepts are really beyond any chance of human comprehension. We don’t know where we came from (even though we might have beliefs on the matter), we don’t know why we were put here – we don’t even know if there will be any lasting consequences of our actions on Earth. As far as we’re aware we came from nothing and will return there when it’s over.
So where then does this crucial sense of purpose come from? How does it form in a healthy mind? How does someone decide what they believe and how they should spend their time in light of so little information and so much mystery? These are questions that many thinkers have attempted to answer with mixed results. Here we are going to examine the views of two key contributors: Carl Jung and Viktor Frankl, which demonstrate how this process of finding meaning fits into the complex puzzle of the human mind.
Jung’s Theories of Individuation
Individuation is a widely used term that essentially describes the psychological process of becoming ‘an individual’. Often this transformation is said to occur during the adolescent years and early-adulthood; when a young person will ‘try out’ different personalities and ways of life to see which fit them best. Most of us can remember a ‘gothic’ or ‘preppy’ phase in adolescence (probably while cringing) and will likely have moved between friendship groups and ideals as we gradually started to learn about ourselves and develop a concrete identity (parents of teenagers will likely be all-too familiar with this period of development). If all goes well though, the individual should come out of the process with a stable personality (even if their beliefs and interests change) and a sense of ‘who they are’ and what their role is in society.
Category Happiness and Fulfillment, Mental Health, Motivational, Positive Psychology Blog, Search For Meaning Blog | Tags: Carl Jung,logotherapy,meaning of life,midlife crisis,Viktor Frankl | 2 Comments
March 1, 2014
by Melisa Marsett
Have you ever thought why yoga gains popularity every day turning into one of the most popular spiritual practices? The person who is deeply in love with yoga will immediately answer this question. In addition to incredible health benefits, yoga gives at least general understanding of the meaning of human life. Yoga helps to find answers on the range of important questions that occur every day in the thoughts of people seeking for truth and the real purpose of our existence.
Meaning in Feeling
What’s the most important thing in life? Where and how we live our lives? According to yoga, we live in so-called “I”, we live our lives in our own feelings and everything else has no real relation to life. As strange as it may sound, but our life is our feelings, mood and emotions. When we have a good mood, we are inspired by everything – the world around us, people, atmosphere and even things. When we have a bad mood, nothing can force us to feel pleased and satisfied, even the most “valuable” and vital things which usually lead to happiness. When we are happy, the whole world is in harmony, everything brings joy to us, and vice versa.
Therefore, generally speaking, the meaning of our life is to be happy. In other words, the meaning of life is to experience the feelings which give force, pleasure and joy. No matter how rich we are, money, power, houses, cars and sex mean nothing if all these do not please us. At the same time, if we live in harmony with the Spirit and experience the feeling of joy and life satisfaction, we will be happy even living, for example, in a cave and eating one spoon of rice per day. To improve the statement that the meaning of life is hidden in our feelings, we only should to look closely at our everyday life and feel the influence of our emotions.
Category Happiness and Fulfillment, Search For Meaning Blog, Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation | Tags: benefits of yoga,discover meaning in life,life meaning,Meaning in Life,way to happiness | 1 Comment
February 20, 2014
by Audrey Hollingshead
3AM. My husband was sleeping soundly beside me while I lay awake. I wanted to sleep more than anything but couldn’t seem to do it. It was like I had drank twelve cups of coffee when I haven’t had a drop of regular in years. My hands shook as I puttered around my iPhone listlessly, hating that I’d be spending the next day at work with keyed up nerves. Why was this happening to me? What was going in my life that was making sleep nothing but a dream?
If this sounds a little too familiar you might be one of the millions of anxiety sufferers losing sleep today. Like pain, sleeplessness and numerous other anxiety symptoms are often a sign that something is up. Unlike pain, however, the “up” doesn’t always have to be physical. It could be almost anything. But some psychologists believe that prolonged anxiety and depression are caused by a subconscious dissatisfaction of life. Weather you know it or not, something is not working out like you had hoped. So, how can you fix this?
First, Take a deep breath. Deep breathing can lessen the feelings of panic and help make this process easier.
Second, you have to look into yourself and ask a lot of important questions. Is this what I expected my job to be like? Am I really happy with my spouse or partner? Is there a sad anniversary coming up that I’m forgetting? This may take a long time, or no time, but it is always important to do.
Category Motivational, Search For Meaning Blog | Tags: anxiety in women,anxiety stress,insomnia,insomnia and depression,Meaning in Life,meaningful life,purpose in life,purposeful life,sources of anxiety | Comments Off on Facing my Anxiety and Making Difficult Decisions
September 11, 2013
by Jessica Galbraith
Philosophers and forward thinking individuals have been searching for the ominous meaning of life since the beginning of human existence. Thousands upon thousands of books have been written on the subject, each author offering up their own explanation of life’s ultimate meaning and the mantras one should live by.
Not everyone is a natural born explorer of the mind and author extraordinaire, so for those of us who are left to sift through the piles of material written by others, what can we expect to gain? Is it possible to learn about life and discover the meaning of our existence through reading a book? While looking at some of the most popular literary works that examine this issue, we can analyze the possible positive effects that they can have on our own lives as well as whether or not they can effectively answer humankind’s greatest question in their pages.
You have to decide what’s the meaning of life
Victor Frankl, the Nazi concentration camp survivor turned inspirational author, is best known for his philosophies that promote finding meaning in everything. From a man who experienced true suffering, he challenges all of us to discover beauty in tragedy and good in the bad. Frankl was the creator of Logotherapy, which is based on the concept that the meaning of life is all about finding what is important and meaningful in one’s own life. Readers all over the world have claimed that Frankl’s words have changed their lives, and his works such as “Man’s Search for Meaning” have sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
Category Happiness and Fulfillment, Love and Spirituality, Motivational, Search For Meaning Blog | Tags: a life of meaning,life meaning,Search for Meaning,the meaning of life | Comments Off on Can Books Help You Find The Meaning Of Life?
September 9, 2013
Retirement is the first time in your life that you have all day everyday to do as you please. How can you leave meaningful life when you retire? You could spend it pottering around your home as many do, but how about really making these years of your life count, and making a difference to the lives of those around you?
Retirement is a great time to expand your social circle as well as appreciate the family and friends you do have, travel, and invest time in your hobbies. As long as you still feel healthy the world is your oyster and with the right attitude this could be the most exciting and enjoyable time of your life, with the opportunity to make changes should you wish to. Retirement is a great time to traveland explore your horizons.
Category Happiness and Fulfillment, Motivational, Search For Meaning Blog | Tags: helping others,life in retirement,meaningful life,meaningful life in retirement,retirement,social circles | Comments Off on Living a meaningful life in retirement: How can you help those around you?