I just read a book, The Power of Meaning, that addresses how to find your purpose in life: how to be happy and self-fulfilled. I want to highlight some of the thoughts of the author, Emily Esfahani Smith. First, here is a quote from here that rings true for me: “Living a meaningful life is all about connecting and contributing to something bigger than you are.”
Sometimes people equate happiness and meaning but Smith looks at it differently. She explains:
“The meaningful life is essential to the happy life. “But happiness is about feeling good in the moment, feeling a state of comfort and ease. Meaning is about belonging to, and serving, something beyond yourself. It’s about believing that your life matters and that it makes sense. There is a depth of well-being that comes with it.”
So, if you achieve meaningfulness in your life it may lead to a happy life but happiness doesn’t guarantee meaningfulness. For example, if I am given a task at work to complete and I do so efficiently and effectively, I’m likely to feel happy about it especially if my boss appreciates my efforts. That doesn’t mean I have engaged in a meaningful act
Smith writes about “Four Pillars of Meaning”:
Belonging: Involvement in relationships where you’re valued by others for who you are intrinsically and where you in turn value others. These are relationships where you feel you matter and treat other people like they matter.
Purpose: Doing something worthwhile with your time; making a contribution to the world.
Storytelling: To lead a meaningful life, we have to develop a coherent narrative about who we are and how we got to be that way. We need to evaluate the good and bad of our experiences and how they shaped us.
Transcendence: Feeling connected to something bigger than yourself. People who have had these transcendent experiences say they rank among the most meaningful of their lives.
Taking steps to realize your purpose should include reflection on your activities and relationships to learn what enhances well-being for you. Moreover, think about how you can use your abilities to give back to society. Commit to ethical behavior and doing something worthwhile: “being and doing good.” Resolve to become a better version of yourself.
To read more about my thoughts on purpose in life, click on this link to my blog.