Forget about a general meaning of life. What matters is discovering your personal purpose—which can be the biggest source of motivation you can imagine.
Once you’ve found your purpose, you cannot wait to get out of bed so you can work on your life’s work. Because that is what purpose is—spending every waking minute on your life’s work. You will not need any distractions anymore to stay interested in life—when you’ve found your purpose, you are never bored.
Work and life should be one
Victor Frankl, a Nazi camp survivor and author of Man’s Search For Meaning, believes that the search for meaning is the greatest driver of your life. This gives the journey to finding your meaning the same importance as the discovery. It is not the destination that matters, but it is the journey that is vital in our lives. Research from the Johns Hopkins University also confirmed this. Students were asked what they considered to be central in their lives. 78% mentioned that finding a purpose and meaning in life was most important to them.
One of the biggest reasons of unhappiness is boredom. We get bored too quickly in our modern world—there is too much spare time. These days we have more free time than ever. We get comfortable in our lives and spend our evenings watching TV shows and live for the weekends. People are always looking for ways to kill time. But why? Time is your most precious asset.
“Time is our most valuable asset, yet we tend to waste it, kill it, and spend it rather than invest it.” –Jim Rohn
People who are working on their life’s work are never bored. These people often work seven days per week. However, for them, it is not perceived as work so they never get bored. You will see that if you find your meaning, all you want to do is spend time on things that will fulfill your purpose. Life and work merge into one.
What’s your purpose?
Everyone on this planet has a purpose—your job is to find out what that is. Some people are destined to be great mothers or fathers. Some people are destined to be artists. You do not have to be a world leader to make an impact on people’s lives. As a voluntary worker in a third-world country, you will help more people than any individual who sits at home, playing video games.
You can still give meaning to playing video games, as long as you are entertaining the world with your videos on YouTube, for example. It also proves to be a good source of making money as well.
The point is that everyone gives a different meaning to his or her life. Frankl says that one way to discover our personal meaning in life is by creating a “life’s work”.
You can give your life meaning by focusing on a goal. Many people think of names such as Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, or Stephen Hawking when it comes to life’s work. It is a good thing to look up to these people for inspiration. However, most people see their own life’s work and say, “I am not Steve Jobs or anything.”
When it comes to finding your purpose, some people argue that you first need a purpose to make the right decisions in life. That does not have to be true—how we act towards finding our meaning is more important than having a meaning. It is impossible to find a general meaning of life, for the purpose of your life depends on your decisions.
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’“ – Viktor E. Frankl
A simple exercise to discover your purpose
Remember: finding your purpose does not come to you within a day. It takes time to think and understand the concept first. But by answering the following question for yourself, you can make it a lot easier to find your purpose:
Imagine yourself living in a world where you do not need money to survive. What is the one thing that you love to do? How would you spend your days? Taking away the restriction of money makes it easier to think about what you actually love to do. People often take jobs just because they need the money. You can make money in multiple ways, so do not worry about money when answering this question. Be honest to yourself, and then worry about how to make money off the thing you love to do 365 days a year.
Alternatively, you can ask yourself, “what do others say that I am good at?” We often have skills and talents, that we do not see, hidden inside of us. However, other people might recognize particular skills and talents you have. This can be a good way of finding out your strengths so you can develop them. Be careful, however, you do not want to do something just because other people say you are good at it. It should be something that you love to do as well.
So why do you exist? If you do not know, that is great, start giving meaning to finding your purpose. If you do know why you are here, that is also great, spend every waking minute on your life’s work.
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