To some degree, we all want to live meaningful life. This will look different to each person, as each of us is focused on different aims, goals, or worthwhile causes. Everyone has a different inspiration and a unique dream. At the end of the day, though, we all want to make our mark on the world somehow. Some people focus their attention on a global scale, helping as many others as they can. Others narrow their focus, trying to improve life for a single person or group of people. Either way, though, one truth remains—just about every human being wants to leave the world a better place, whether through becoming an LPN, repurposing used grease, or even heading to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Know what meaningful means to you.
Merriam-Webster defines the word meaningful as “having a meaning or purpose,” with the meaning explained as “significant quality” and purpose as “an end to be obtained.” Of course, none of us can claim to know the meaning of life in a larger sense. Most of us can’t identify our life’s purpose either. What we can solve, though, is the unique way we choose to interpret our version of a meaningful life. This definition will vary from person to person, but will generally focus on the people and passions that, to that individual, make life worth living. By figuring out what a meaningful life would look like to you, you can take steps toward making that vision your reality.
Find a positive role model.
Once you’ve determined what your uniquely meaningful life would look like, take some time to study others who’ve lived with similar meaning. For instance, if you identify your passions as human rights and equality, Malliha Wilson would be an excellent source of inspiration. As the first visible minority (Malliha was born in Sri Lanka) to serve as Assistant Deputy Attorney General of the Ontario Government, Malliha gained the necessary education to make a difference, uniting her career path and mission—her belief in human rights—to make a difference. These days, Malliha serves as Senior Counsel at the Nava Wilson LLP law firm, continuing to fight for human rights and enforcement of fair labour law. Whatever your passion, there’s sure to be someone out there who‘ll inspire you with their work promoting that same cause.
Do your part for the planet.
Whatever your particular idea of meaning might be, doing your part for the planet can be a part of it. After all, without a planet, there’s no humanity to make a difference! From collecting used cooking oil to create an eco-friendly alternative fuel to recycling and reusing what you can, there’s no end to the ways you can work towards healthier earth. Of course, it’s easy to feel like your own small efforts are too minor to make a real difference. Nevertheless, each tiny drop adds up to be an ocean of change—and if enough people put in that effort, that change will be undeniable.
Make a difference.
However you define your purpose, there are surely countless ways to work towards it. Someone with a passion for healthcare, for example, might seek out practical nursing career opportunities to help patients improve their physical and mental health and wellness. Another person may have a strong sense of religion and choose to make a difference through ministry. Still, others might follow in Ms. Wilson’s footsteps and pursue a law degree to fight for citizens’ legal rights. Someone with an entrepreneur’s mindset may opt for an alternative structure, creating their own opportunities to make their mark without waiting for others’ approval. These each might look different, but they’re all ways to make a difference, whether that’s through your occupation, service, or other efforts. There are plenty of opportunities for making a change. Volunteering with care facilities or earning a bachelor of science degree, there’s always a high demand for people with compassion who can make a difference.
Connect with others.
Strong, healthy relationships—both romantic and otherwise—are a keystone facet of a happy, meaningful life. A German study surveyed participants about their sense of fulfillment and satisfaction with life. Through their research, they found that those who focused on social methods for improving their life (such as seeing friends and family more often) became more satisfied in the process. Conversely, those who focused their attentions on self-improvement, rather than efforts for the greater good, were more likely to be content at best.
Like there’s no one version of a meaningful life, there’s no one method for achieving happiness. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a genuine path to happiness that did not focus on that idea of a meaningful life. Doing what makes you happy might not seem to make a big difference in the larger world, but it will help align you with your life’s purpose. By extension, you’ll find your life has truer, more genuine meaning.
For some people, the key to a meaningful life may be a career as a practical nurse or in other healthcare occupations. Others might think that following their culinary dreams and recycling cooking oil is a great way to give their lives meaning. Still, others turn to fields like labour law, medical care, and even personal improvements to define their purpose. None of these people are wrong—to live a truly meaningful life, you must follow your own unique path and purpose.