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“My life is dull and boring and all I seem to do is travel to and from work and have the same conversations and go home and say, ‘What’s for dinner?’ and watch Xfactor and go to bed and repeat day after day.” It’s not too late to create meaning in life, especially in your thirties.
“If life has no meaning, why don’t we create meaning for it?” — Naguib Mahfou
Here is the ultimate life hack for happiness and fulfillment that I’ve developed to feel feel important and pretend I’m some spiritual guru. But seriously, it has worked, helping me become successful financially and spiritually:
Help. Analyse. Create. Keep Going
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama
So how do individuals create meaning in their lives? Well, as the old adage goes, ‘It’s nice to be nice.’ It’s true. There’s a whole wealth of scientific studies to support the notion that helping others can create meaning in life.
There are a lot of unbearable bastards on this planet, but if you spend time focusing on being nice to people they don’t seem that bad. A lot of us also spend time focusing too much on ourselves and living in our own heads. If you can have less of a ‘me’ focus and more of a ‘we’ focus it can significantly improve your happiness, and others’ happiness too.
A study published in the International Journal of Behavioural Medicine, concludes that, “A strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally and behaviorally compassionate, so long as they are not overwhelmed by helping tasks.”
And if you generally hate people, why not help those things called animals.
One of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done was rescuing stray cats on the brink of death in South Korea. I even kept one and he’s become my best buddy today (his name is Oon which is Korean for ‘luck’). There are countless ways you can help others. Below are just a few ideas to give you inspiration. Some you can do as you travel and some are smaller acts of kindness you can do while still working.
- Rescue animals from around the world
- Buddy a lonely old person
- Help a friend get active by hitting the gym together
- Connect with orphaned children
- Travel the world on the Mercy Ship and save lives
- Donate something you don’t use
- Buy food for a homeless person
If you want to create meaning in life, it’s important to analyse what makes you feel alive.
Do you have a passion? Act on it. Build it. Don’t bury it and shrivel up like a little pathetic worm.
For example, your career might be the main factor as to why you feel like your life has no meaning. Here’s a brief summary of an article I’ve previously written titled ‘I Hate My Job: How To Find Work You Love.’ When analysing your potential career choices here are the steps to create meaning in life by finding fulfilling work.
Write down all the things that you enjoy
Don’t be too stringent with your choices. Simply write down anything that you like doing. Whether it be waking up and relaxing in the morning or playing piano, list your interests and hobbies. These can give hints to the sort of lifestyle you want and the jobs that complement this lifestyle.
Even if you enjoy sleeping in, this hints that your soul craves to be self-employed where you can choose your own hours.
Ask yourself what you loved doing as a kid
Even if it’s a penchant for Lego, this still hints you have a passion for building or design. When we were young our brains were bursting with fun and imagination before it’s sucked out of you in your adult life by corporate spreadsheets and shit. Get in touch with that kid you once were.
For example, I used to love collecting things from the garden such as twigs and then combining them with yogurt pots and other household waste items in order to create toy spaceships. While this may seem trivial, I realised my life had deflected away from my true passion of building things.
From then on, whenever I got a break from work, I started volunteering for a site called thepoosh.org and began building liveable hobbit-homes for farmers and glamping companies. I was filled with passion again and felt I had started to create meaning in life.
Are there any common links? Perhaps you find enjoyment in helping others and working in groups. Or perhaps you prefer to work alone. Do you prefer creative efforts or a systematic logical process? Are there any existing jobs that encompass these passions and preferences? Can you start a business that incorporates these passions that solves others’ problems?
Take some time carefully analysing it but realise you don’t have to make a decision yet. You can make time to volunteer and try these things out first.
Think how important money is to you
Is money really that important to you? This is perhaps the biggest question many people struggle to answer. One of the best things to do is simply ask yourself if you can afford to make the financial sacrifices if necessary.
If you can still live a comfortable life on $20,000 dollars less a year but wake up with a purpose in life, it’ll be the wisest decision you ever make. If you can’t handle a pay cut are there any ways to free up time in order to pursue your hobbies and interests? (Check out my article, ‘I’m Way Too Busy: Essential Productivity Tips.’)
Volunteer, even if just one hour a week. You still have at least another 30 working years to find out so it’s worth the investment. This will also show some of the experience needed on your CV to make the transition.
“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Sit down right now and ask yourself, ‘What are my hobbies?’ If you can’t answer that question it generally means you’re a lazy, uninteresting bastard with nothing to say at parties or you’re literally the busiest person on earth. Too many people sit on the conveyor belt of mediocrity, travelling to and from work, getting home, eating dinner and then sprawling on the couch in a vegetative state watching TV.
Everybody needs a hobby where they can create something in order to create meaning in life. Studies have shown that being creative can lower stress levels, increase psychological resilience and increase overall well-being while lowering depression.
And it doesn’t have to be just creating meaning through art art, there are many ways you can create. You can learn another language, build an athletic body, build a website, make music — anything that involves creating something new and excites you.
And before you say it, you do have time. You can create time. There’s your first creative project — creating time. Here are 14 ways you can create time in your thirties and add up to five hours onto your day.
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” — Tony Robbins
Do you know what Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Oprah Winfrey all have in common? They all consistently meditate every morning (see my article, Miserable AF? Stop Moaning Start Meditating for guidance on how to meditate and increase your happiness).
Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk consistently read. Author Thomas C Corley notes in his book Change Your Habits Change Your Life that out of the world’s richest people, nearly 80 percent of them consistently exercise each day for 30 minutes. Getting the point here?
Consistency is paramount. Even if whatever you’re doing is for just 15 minutes a day, the long-term pay-offs will eventually add up. There’s great pleasure in doing something consistently to create meaning in life. Gentleman, don’t give up and you will find yourself feeling happier and more fulfilled in your thirties.
How are you going to create more meaning in life? Or feel free to share your story and what’s already worked for you. Tell us in the comment sections below.