Meaning isn’t something you stumble upon. It’s something you consciously build into your life. Its foundation rests on your experiences, beliefs, and core values. The people you love, the things you cherish, and what you’re willing to sacrifice make up who you are.
Each of us needs to reconstitute meaning in our lives. We need to believe in something. Fight for something. We’re all told life’s short and to make the most of it, yet few do anything about it. Are you living a purposeful life or are you going through the motions?
All the ingredients of a meaningful life are in front of you. Only you can put them into the unique pattern that will define that meaning.
Carefully read these quotes as they’ll guide you on your journey:
1. “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” ― Epictetus
So many people get caught in the trap of setting New Year’s resolutions. I say trap because it’s not like they came up with their resolutions on January 1st. They’ve known for a while, and they’ve been putting it off. They said I’ll do it next year. A better resolution is to omit those thoughts and the luxury of waiting and demand the best of yourself today.
2. “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between does what he wants to do.” ― Bob Dylan
Real misery is feeling like something was forced upon us and we’re not in control. True success is about choosing our problems. To create meaning and live life on our terms. The most gratifying form of freedom isn’t a life free of responsibilities, but a life where we’re free to choose our responsibilities.
3. “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people but care more about their opinion than our own.” ― Marcus Aurelius
The expectations of others are often crushing. One snide comment or dismissal can leave you feeling down or even defeated. Why though? What makes their opinion about us better than our own? Especially considering they don’t know our full story. They don’t know what we’ve been through or what we’re capable of accomplishing.
Remember, you’re not in this world to live up to anyone’s expectations just like they’re not in this world to live up to yours. The quicker we all figure that out, the sooner we can stop holding back and focus instead on doing what makes us truly happy.
4. “Don’t hate the game. Love the game, cause you’re in it, mate. Own the game.” ― Guy Ritchie
People take life too seriously. Treating life like a game makes it fun. The game of life has varying levels of difficulty, but if you take responsibility for everything you do and act as the master of your kingdom, then you’ll, in effect, own your life. Don’t let others choose your identity, tempt you with worldly pleasures, or tell you that you’re not enough. Bet on yourself every time and play the game like a champion.
5. “When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do? Memento mori — “remember that you have to die.” All of this will go to nothing.” ― Ryan Holiday
When faced with a tough situation, ask yourself, will this matter in the long run? Will I think about it a year from now? I bet the answer is no more often than not. If that’s the case, then there’s no reason to get worked up about it now. This, too, shall pass.
6. “If you are not falling down occasionally, you are just coasting.” ― Kevin Kelly
Anything worth doing comes with some form of struggle. Without risk, there’s no reward. Real growth comes from getting out of your comfort zone and doing things that scare you. Hard things. Things that may hurt you or make you feel uncomfortable.
Take this article as an example, I’ve been a big fan of Addicted2Success for years, and despite my previous writing success, I still found myself afraid of pitching this article. I feared I might not measure up to their quality standards. That I might get rejected or ignored. I can’t let fear dictate my actions, though. I can’t allow myself to coast. I have to move forward and accept that there’s a possibility you’ll never read this because it wasn’t good enough.
7. “The disease of our times is that we live on the surface. We’re like the Platte River, a mile wide and an inch deep.” ― Steven Pressfield
Everyone is looking for the shortcuts and cheat codes to a better life. We all want to be the noun without doing the verb. We all do the surface stuff instead of putting in the kind of work that produces something of real value. Real satisfaction and meaning come from diving deep into your craft. Opt for a few close friends rather than a few thousand acquaintances. Spend more time creating than consuming while you’re at it.
8. “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” ― Seth Godin
Too many people fantasize about a better life. They plan vacations so they can escape reality. They browse social media to avoid the life they’ve created. They’re trapped in their heads, believing they’re helpless to create the change necessary to live a fulfilling life. A better solution is to design the life you’ve always dreamed of and lay a single brick each day until you’ve built it.
9. “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” ― Albert Camus.
Happiness is not something you find. It’s something you do. Happiness, much like misery, is a choice. Do you want to know why people are grumpy, negative, and have a bad attitude? Because it’s easier.
It’s easier to be sad then it is to be happy, and it’s easier to keep searching than it is to decide today that you’re going to see things differently. It’s harder to give people the benefit of the doubt or smile when you’re not feeling your best. Like a habit, though, it gets easier with time.
10. “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” ― Lin Yutang
We say yes too much, and as a result, we’re all overcommitted and overworked. Feeling spread thin is a sure-fire way to feel unfulfilled. On the other hand, cutting your level of commitments in half can leave you feeling rejuvenated and gratified. Decide to let go of what ails you.
Chances are you’ve made many commitments to others and yourself. You made promises you never fulfilled. It’s time to realize you can’t do it all. You can’t make everyone happy. Take a step back and focus on creating meaning through the art of subtraction. Say yes to what you truly want by saying no more often.