The (Simple) Secret Behind Meaningful Living

Everyone and their mother has advice on how you can live more meaningfully — just Google the term to see upwards of 116 MILLION articles on the subject. There are thousands of blogs dedicated to it. To further complicate the issue, everyone suggests different methods to add meaning to your life: find your purpose, follow your passion, get rid of your stuff, volunteer, simplify your life, set (and meet) goals, read more, start a gratitude journal, meet new people…but don’t forget to work and sleep and eat healthy and socialize and stay connected with your family and current friends. Got all that?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kind of time.

Screen capture of Google search "meaningful living" -- returns 116 million results

Ix-nay on the Google Searching

Quit it. Right now. Technology is amazing, but Google doesn’t know you. Sure, maybe it can pull up your Facebook profile or your contact information, but it can’t read your mind. It can’t tell you what adds meaning to your life specifically, or how and when you should do it. (Trust me, I’ve tried.)

Knowing how you can impact the world — and find satisfaction in it — isn’t something you can find online.

What Moves You?

Google might not help, but the secret of meaningful living isn’t complicated. Meaningful living, in its simplest form, is all about finding and pursuing things that make you happy.

So all you need to do? Identify what moves you.Β 

What fires you up? Politics? Get involved in your local political party. Writers, look for magazines or literary journals asking for submissions. Animal lovers can get involved at a local shelter or vet office. Singers, athletes, mental health advocates? Do those things. If you can’t get paid to do them, volunteer — and you may find ways to monetize your passion later. But first, you need to get started.

It’s that simple.

The Only Caveat

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Oscar WildeThe people who praise meaningful living the loudest sometimes lead nontraditional lifestyles. Niall Doherty lives abroad and set a goal to cross the globe without flying. Benny Lewis spends three months in each country he visits, learning its language. I quit my full-time job to write and start my own business.

But what if language learning and extensive travel don’t appeal to you? What if you have a spouse or kids, or a job you actually like? What if you don’t want to run your own business?

Don’t. Your path to meaningful living may not look like mine or Niall’s or Benny’s. It may not look like your best friend’s path. Meaningful living means different things to different people, so be you. Contribute to the world in a way that makes sense to you. You can live meaningfully and work a full-time job; there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re happy.

You can be you, and that’s the most liberating thing about meaningful living.

"Contribute to the world in a way that makes sense to you." Natalie Schriefer

Coming up next is an exclusive interview with Hearts of Strangers founder Corey Hudson, in which he talks about what meaningful living means to him. Check it out here!

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67 thoughts on “The (Simple) Secret Behind Meaningful Living

      • He works for anyone willing to seek out relationship with Him. All one has to do is declare with their mouth that He is their Lord and Savior, that He died for their Sin and it all goes from there. It’s simple, though I admit one of the hardest things to do.

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      • I’m ambivalent about many things πŸ™‚ But about faith specifically — I want my blog to be a place of discussion, where people of all faiths feel welcome, so I try to remain neutral.

        As for my personal feelings, I’m a bit of a skeptic. I know a lot of people who claim to be religious but have done some very cruel things. I do, however, envy the peace and happiness that it brings people!

        Like

      • I get that you want your blog to be a place where people of all faiths can feel welcome. Believe it or not, mine is.

        True, I’m anti-Islamic, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get along with Muslims. A few hours ago, I had a decent conversation with a Muslim regarding the interpretation of a verse from the Qur’an. It was good and I learned something new.

        I don’t hide my faith. It’s a big part of who I am. Now, skepticism is something I get. Once upon a time, I had my doubts. Serious research changed that.

        There was a series of events in my life that led me to reevaluate my entire life. That’s when the woman who would become my wife came onto the scene.

        She’s one of those very solid, on fire for Jesus, Bible-toting women, who won’t hesitate to speak her mind. I was doomed from the start, because she wasn’t the only pursuing me, Jesus was too.

        I began to take a fresh look at my childhood faith, and learned a lot of very hard and valuable lessons. Since then, I’ve become an Apologist, or a defender of the faith.

        I debate critics of Christianity, mostly Muslims. However, I’ve also had conversations with atheists and agnostics.

        If you’re interested, I can point you to some sources, which make a very strong case for Christianity.

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      • Have you had a chance to watch the video? In hindsight, I sent you the wrong link. πŸ˜‚ The Cold Case videos are an entire series, and I meant to send you the one for God’s existence. They’re all done by the same guy, but it occurs to me that it might have been better to send you the Cold Case for God’s Existence first, rather than this one. In either case, Jim Wallace presents the whole thing rather effectively.

        If you want to see more, I have a file full of Christian videos on YouTube that I can link you to, including several compelling arguments for creation science. Some of it’s kinda out there, but it’s still good stuff.

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      • I haven’t yet — the magazine I write for is coming up to deadline and I haven’t been doing very much for fun 😦 But I’m still interested in watching. Definitely link me to the file — I’ll start watching soon (likely after Christmas).

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      • I’ve also decided to take a break from blogging, in order to refocus on my understanding of Scripture and God. For the past few months, I’ve been focused heavily on apologetics, and my own journey has suffered a bit.

        Plus, I found myself in a debate that was less debate, and more knock-down-drag-out, versus two Jews and at least three Muslims. It lasted for days, and I finally came to a place where I needed to bow out, let them think they’d won and go off to lick my wounds. 😎

        Because of all of that, I plan to take a break from posting, but I will be on periodically to check for messages and comments. At the moment, I’m focusing on Theology and Messianic Prophesy. We’ll see where that takes me.

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  1. Good post.
    Having myself a blog that outlines my own personal recipe for a more meaningful life, can relate to the individual meaning given to the word meaningful. As in so much else, there is vast common ground to the notion, but the difference will come from each individual.
    One way that helps me keep “on the path” is to constantly ask questions on my thoughts and actions. The answers usually make my choices more deliberate and give me a greater sense of purpose.
    Thanks for your words. Keep them coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE this!!!! I agree with you whole heartedly. I see finding your passion and following it the way to live. It doesn’t matter what other people do or think. I am excited about this series, and can’t wait to read the next post!!!

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  3. Wonderful! Meaningful living can sometimes be a mind trap (in my experience). What’s meaningful to others may not be what’s meaningful to me–and that’s okay. More than okay, it’s perfect! Your passion is yours, and no one can (or should!) tell you that it isn’t meaningful enough.

    I wish I came across posts like these in the past, it would have been very helpful πŸ™‚ This was a great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember being told that my interests weren’t important enough or were “wrong” — and I definitely wish I understood back then that it’s good for people to be different. It’s a tough topic, and I hope to spread awareness.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand that dismissive feeling all too well. I grew up wanting to open a bakery/cafe with my little brother, me running the bakery and him doing the food in the cafe. He eventually grew out of it, but I ended up going to school for both cooking and baking.

        Naturally, my parents wanted me to be a nurse, or work with computers because they make more money. Nevermind that baking was a true passion for me, that wasn’t enough for them… it had to be about the money. They successfully extinguished that dream, but I’m starting to find that fire again. πŸ™‚

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      • Good for you! I’m sorry to hear you experienced that — it’s so common, and it sucks 😦 Money isn’t the most important thing, but it’s easy to forget that. I wish you all the best in your baking/cooking dreams — and in whatever else you decide to pursue! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Interview: Corey Hudson | But Why?

      • I also love this thought of yours: “Contribute to the world in a way that makes sense to you.” For many people, trying to contribute in an effort to please others or in an effort to live up to other people’s expectations–their parents, their spouse, their boss, society in general, etc–only leads to disappointment and frustration. Knowing (or relearning) who you really are and remaining true to yourself is key to a meaningful and fulfilling life. Thanks again for this post.

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      • Thank you. That’s so very true — and it’s definitely something I learned the hard way, by spending way too much time doing what was expected of me. That’s a tough path, and not one I’d like to go back to anytime soon!

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  5. Thanks Natalie for the informative post; didn’t know that about Google! πŸ™‚ I do think though that we’re put here for more than just doing what pleases ourselves. After all, a life that is lived for others has much more gratification and meaning to it than one that is lived for oneself. Abraham Lincoln is a good example of this. His dedication to his country and principles forced him to live beyond what made him happy and serve others, thereby creating a legacy that has endured the centuries.

    It’s hard for people in 2017 to look beyond themselves but I think that when we seek God’s plan for our lives, we truly find a meaningful life. Keep posting! πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you! I think serving others and pursuing what makes you happy can be interrelated — and I think it’s important to find the intersect between these two things in our own lives and pursue that. What’s better than being happy AND being able to positively impact others’ lives? πŸ™‚

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I really like your insight on this topic. It’s so easy to look at trying to live a meaningful life with an attitude of skepticism in trying to match other people. Every so often, we need to remember that meaningful living starts at a lower level, and I commend you for noticing something that others typically don’t and drawing attention to it.

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    • Thank you! πŸ™‚ Meaningful living can be both amazingly simple and intensely complicated, depending on where we’re coming from. It’s important to start with yourself.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Really good one Natalie, this is what one realizes as one grows older! Sometimes just being oneself is the toughest thing in the world!

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  8. I definitely needed a post like this. It was inspirational, meaningful(haha) and very relatable. I loved your use of links, bold text and quotes. The entire article came together so smoothly and never strayed off topic. Amazing work!

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  9. First, I love that you googled “meaningful living,” – there’s definitely some hidden irony there. Second, the caveat is right on. Adventurous people seem to love trying to get everyone into zip lining across the amazon while eating puffer fish sushi – some of us don’t see much meaning in that.

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    • That’s very true! I’ve read some poor advice that told me things like “You won’t be happy unless you travel” and for a while, I believed it. Then one day, I stopped and really thought about — and realized that yes, while I might like to visit a few places one day, I can most certainly find happiness without leaving my country permanently.

      Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

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  10. Pingback: Questioning Gender Neutrality | But Why?

  11. I love this. Life isn’t meant to be lived perfectly…but merely to be LIVED. Boldly, wildly, beautifully, uncertainly, imperfectly, magically LIVED. πŸ™‚

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  12. What a great post! And it’s so true. I’m currently in a place in my life where I am pulling back and thinking about what makes my life meaningful, and what I want to continue doing and/ or change to get there, so this post hit me in the feels today. πŸ™‚

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  13. I really loved your writing, I have the same philosophy for life. I’ve also quit my full-time job to start my own venture and em currently enjoying my life. reading this really put a smile on my face,, Thank you…

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