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.
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.
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
The 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.