The Path to a Meaningful Life
We are all on a journey of finding meaning in our lives. As we balance our work and personal responsibilities, figuring out how to find that meaning can be tricky.
How do you know what will work or where to start?
We have found an organization that can help point the way.
Since 2001, The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley has been a leader in studying the science of a meaningful life. They study things like compassion, social bonds and altruistic behavior. At the end of 2022, they reached out to almost 400 researchers and compiled the findings that were the most interesting and influential.
We thought we would share some of these findings to illuminate how you can continue your path toward finding meaning in your life.
Appreciating everyday experiences enhances our meaning in life.
Simply taking a few minutes to appreciate one’s experiences can increase confidence and well-being. This can be as easy as taking a moment to reflect on the beauty of the sunset or breathing in the aroma of your coffee and savoring the smell. The key is actively focusing on the experience.
Leaning into uncomfortable feelings can help us achieve bigger life goals.
Researchers found that our natural desire for comfort can be a barrier to achieving our goals. They discovered that people who pushed themselves beyond their comfort zones believed they made more progress toward their goals. These people came to interpret their feelings of nervousness, stress and discomfort as motivating.
The power of kindness improves our lives, inside and out.
We know that kindness can make us feel good, but it actually impacts a response that controls inflammation in our body. People who performed three acts of kindness per day, not only experienced higher self-confidence, more competence and greater sense of meaning, but their inflammation response was reduced.
Awe helps us feel more connected to the global community.
Feeling connected with others is an essential element of well being. In this hectic world, it can be hard enough to feel connected to those in our immediate surroundings let alone with the global community. Finding awe in our life helps bridge that gap. According to researcher Sean Laurent, “Awe helps you realize that you’re a small piece of a larger universe. That naturally leads to a realization that people elsewhere are relevant and worthy of concern”. Some of the most common sources of awe are nature, music, art or religious experiences.
The common element of this research is that small actions have profound implications for our well being and happiness. So this week:
Appreciate a simple experience
Push yourself a little
Commit random acts of kindness
Find a sense of wonder
You’ll be glad you did.