Have you ever wondered what is the meaning of life? I have, and I think I’m finally ready to answer this question. First, though, let’s consider a story about where meaning originates from. Before I became a hypnotist, I was a professional musician. One day, my uncle asked me about the meaning of a classical piece that he liked. From the look on his face, I think my response must have disappointed him. Instead of giving him a definite answer, I asked what the piece meant to him. I told him the piece he was asking about had no meaning on its own.
I explained that meaning is not generally found in the music itself. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, meaning is found in the mind of the listener. The question, “what is the meaning of life?” is up to you to decide. In this article, I will talk about the question “what is the meaning of life?” I will also tell you how to define meaning and seek a greater purpose in life.
What is the meaning of life?
The answer lies in the mind of the individual.
So, what is the meaning of life? Life, by itself, has no meaning. Meaning is entirely relative. Like all other evaluations, meaning only exists in the mind. That said, life without meaning is unorganized at best (and chaotic at worst). People who live according to a definite purpose have more direction, are happier, and feel more fulfilled. You need to define what is the meaning of life for you.
Once you have defined your greater purpose in life, this purpose will be your playbook for living. Greater happiness, success, and fulfillment are all byproducts of living life according to your greater purpose.
Start with WHY
Simon Sinek, the author of the book Start with Why, discusses the importance of starting with why you are inspired to do something. In business, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. It’s the same for life. Starting with “why” eases the decision-making process. It also helps you find the motivation you need to carry out your purpose.
What about you? Why do you wake up in the morning? What is the “why” behind the choices you make and the activities in which you participate? Find your “why” to find the meaning of life.
Define your most important values
An important first step to defining your “why” is outlining your core values. Your values are the inspiration behind what you do. Make a list of 10-20 values that are the most important to you. For example, you might value integrity, teamwork, following through, etc. Now look over your list and determine the 2-3 most essential values. These are the values you will express by living according to your purpose.
Another way to define your values is to think about qualities you admire in others. How could you express those in your own life? Next, think about what would be present in an ideal world. What qualities would people express in their lives and their work? These values are the most important to you.
Choose your purpose
What is the meaning of life? Really, it’s up to you to decide. Some people talk about “finding” their purpose as if it is a lost item. Where are you going to look for it? Under the coach? Under the coffee table? Out in the wilderness? The point is, your purpose is what you make it out to be. In other words, choose your purpose and live by it.
Is finding your life’s purpose really that simple? Yes, it is. Yet, many people struggle to discover their purpose. There are many reasons for this difficulty. Rest assured, you already know your purpose at some level. Keep reading to discover how to become more aware of your greater purpose.
The formula for defining your greater purpose in life
Your life’s purpose has a location. It can be found at the intersection of your unique qualities, your inspiration or passions, meaningful contributions, and your core values. Now, before you run out in the street to look for this intersection, let me give you a map.
The formula for a well-written life purpose statement is:
Your unique qualities + your inspiration/passion + meaningful contribution to others + core values = your greater purpose in life
Using this formula, a well-written life purpose statement could be: I use creativity and storytelling to help others develop self-confidence and reach their full potential in life.
There is no right or wrong way to craft a statement for your life purpose. It will be different for everyone. Focus on your unique qualities, values, contribution, and what inspires you. Remember that the answer to the question “what is the meaning of life?” is entirely up to you. Write a life-purpose statement that resonates with you.
Pay attention to contrast
To discover what you want, it’s important to understand what you don’t want. Most people tend to dwell on what they don’t want. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, note the contrast between the two. If you realize that a certain condition in your life is undesirable, ask yourself What would I like to experience instead? The answer to this question is a valuable piece of information. You have just identified a positive condition that can be made into a reality.
A word of caution: when the outcome involves other people, always look within for change. For example, you might notice that you feel underappreciated at work. When you ask yourself what you would like to experience, it might be feeling appreciated. This is perfectly fine. Just remember that you only have control over yourself. Many people want to change the world from the outside in. They want to stay the same and have the world around them change. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work this way.
Choose your point of focus
The law of attraction states that you get more of what you focus on. Any persistent, predominant ideas you hold in your mind, you magnetically attract into your life. The first reason you may be unaware of your purpose is that you habitually focus on what you don’t want to experience. Make a habit of consciously choosing your point of focus. Focus on what you do want to experience in life to get more of that.
Set positive outcomes
Becoming aware of your purpose means knowing what you want and working towards it. Deciding what you want may sound like a simple step, but it’s a stumbling block for many people. Learn to set outcomes regularly. Outcomes are different from goals in that they are highly-specific and often involve shorter time frames. Get into the habit of setting an outcome for each day. Define what you want: results you can see, hear, and feel when you achieve the desired result.
In NLP, this process of defining outcomes is called the well-formed outcome. This process can be simplified to just four questions. First, what specifically do you want? Next, how will you know when you have it? What might stand in the way of achieving this outcome? Finally, what’s the first physical action step you can take? Ask yourself these questions, then get to work creating the outcome you desire.
Why we set outcomes
Setting an outcome moves you toward results-oriented thinking. It frees up the mental resources needed to achieve the results you desire. I recommend setting outcomes on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. When you set outcomes and work towards them, it gets your energy flowing in a positive direction and helps you discover what’s important to you.
You will soon notice repeating themes in the outcomes you set. You may also notice that your outcomes are all connected in some way, perhaps by the same underlying set of values. These themes, patterns, and trends help blaze a path that follows your life’s purpose.
Give yourself time to think
It’s important to take time away from the daily grind for personal reflection. Our greatest insights often come when we are taking a break. Take a complete break from your daily life. You’ll be amazed at what insights you gain.
We tend to get so caught up in daily life that we lose sight of the big picture. According to Jack Canfield’s book The Success Principles, discovering what is the meaning of life and your purpose is a matter of finding the time and space to think about it. Set aside a recurring time to envision your goals. Think about the goals you would like to achieve in the next one, five, or ten years.
What we want changes over time. With that in mind, sit down with a pad of paper on a regular basis. Write down what you desire to achieve. Next, ask yourself what is needed to achieve those outcomes and what you stand to gain. Finally, think about how achieving your desires will help other people and contribute to society at large. Do this exercise and you will have your life purpose!
Explore what makes you unique
I believe everyone has a unique purpose in life. Companies use something called a USP, or unique selling proposition, to differentiate themselves from other companies. You also have a USP: you have qualities that make you unique. You can use those qualities to change the world in positive ways. Explore the qualities that make you unique. Doing so will give you some clues as to how you will accomplish your life purpose. For example, if you are a creative person, you may use art or other mediums to achieve your purpose.
All you have to do is ask
What is the meaning of life? What is my unique purpose?
If you’re not sure about your greater purpose in life, all your need to do is ask. You may already be aware that you have access to higher wisdom and intelligence than you’re normally aware of. Through the power of altered states (such as hypnosis) you can learn to access this vast reservoir of mind power.
The next time you pray or meditate, simply ask this higher intelligence to reveal your greater purpose in life. Expect to receive an answer and you will. I’m not sure how you will receive the answer. It may be a picture, a voice in your head, or just an idea. Don’t worry about whether the answer is “right.” Just go with the first thing that comes to mind.
You can have as many of these meditation/prayer sessions as you like to gain clarity about your purpose over time.
Pay attention to your feelings
Have you ever been so immersed in something that you felt pure joy? Your feelings are a powerful barometer indicating how close you are to your life purpose. When you feel connected in that way, you are right on track. When you feel bad, it’s probably because you strayed from your purpose. Pay mind to your feelings by keeping a journal. Notice what you’re doing when you have the greatest feelings of joy.
Keep in mind that your life purpose is greater than any single activity or experience. Your life purpose is a mission, not an activity or task. When are on purpose, you feel good because you are expressing the values that are important to you. You are also helping others in a meaningful way. When you’re feeling best, notice what you do and how you do it. You will soon notice patterns that point to your life purpose.
Increase your self-esteem
Too often, low self-esteem prevents you from discovering what is the meaning of life. You’re too busy feeling down on yourself to pay attention to what you want or what inspires you. Increasing self-esteem will help you tremendously, regardless of your goal. I recommend you read my article on the subject here.
Use your life purpose to inform your daily life
We are all faced with a multitude of decisions each day. Should I take the job in Chicago or stay where I’m at? Would going back to school be a good move for me? Should I invest in XYZ company? Once you have identified your concept of what is the meaning of life, all decisions become easier. What you define as the meaning of your life, or your life purpose informs your daily choices.
Suppose a company must decide whether to create a new policy. They may start by asking themselves if that policy advances their mission statement. If it doesn’t, there’s no reason to do it. Your daily life is the same. When faced with a life decision, you simply ask yourself which choice, if any, advances your purpose in life. Follow paths that further your purpose whenever possible.
Pay attention to what inspires you
It’s always a good idea to be aware of the people, activities, and causes that inspire you. These inspirations are reliable indicators of your life’s meaning – your greater purpose. Ask yourself who or what truly inspires you. Then, determine what about that person, activity, or cause is inspiring. Finally, determine how you can develop the qualities you admire, or contribute to, the cause(s) you find most noble.
Focus on contribution
I think that “what is the meaning of life” is using your unique talents to help others. As you may know, a business cannot be truly viable in the long run if it doesn’t help the world become a better place. My opinion is that, to have a truly fulfilling life, helping others is paramount.
How will you brighten the lives of others? What will you do for them or help them do? How will they benefit from interacting with you? Choose a contribution that’s meaningful to you. Once you’ve identified this contribution, you have already defined a substantial chunk of your life purpose.
Your life purpose can change over time
Some people may be hesitant to define a purpose in life because they are afraid of being locked into it forever. Your Life purpose is not set in stone.
I believe that your life purpose can change over time. You may find that your path in life takes you down various roads and changing terrain. For example, my own life purpose has changed at least once. When I studied music, I was one of the most committed students at my school. I practiced five hours a day, if not more. I was absolutely committed to carrying out my purpose of uplifting others with music. Because of my hard work, I managed to earn a living playing music for some time.
As I got older that purpose resonated less and less with me. I knew I needed to make a change, but everyone advised me to keeping doing music because that’s what I had always done. Yet, the more I followed my “old” life purpose, the more miserable I became. I finally decided to completely redefine my purpose. Now, I couldn’t be happier. I am in business for myself and get to inspire and uplift others using hypnosis.
Defining your purpose in the present
You may be in a similar position as I was. I advise you not to hesitate in redefining your life purpose. Not only will you be happier, you will also be able to better serve others. In my opinion, that is the meaning of life.
In summary, “what is the meaning of life” is up to you. Your definition fosters your mission in life. With any given purpose, there are a multitude of ways to execute it. Ultimately, the more you use your unique gifts to help others in a meaningful way, the more fulfilled, happy, and successful you will be.
If you’re interested in exploring your life purpose further, I have prepared a free PDF worksheet you can use as a guide. The download link is below. The worksheet will help you to define your purpose in life using the above tips. I encourage you to download it and let me know how it works for you.