5 Easy Ways to Live a More Meaningful Life
Because not everyone has time to read Viktor Frankl.
My favorite part about philosophy has always been that all of the “secrets” that people have created about living well are completely free and accessible to everyone.
Seriously, exposure to just about all of the best ideas in the world is just up the street at your local library.
I love how easy it is to find philosophical ideas that can change your life.
However, my least favorite part about philosophy has always been that the ideas that you can learn about from people like Miyamoto Musashi, Viktor Frankl, or Buddha are not exactly the easiest to implement in your life.
It’s hard to live a meaningful life according to these great thinkers because to them, meaning comes from great action, and great action is hard work.
However, that doesn’t mean that small actions cannot get you kickstarted in the right direction toward a more meaningful life.
Here are 5 easy ways that you can live a more full life, according to psychology and philosophy.
Make group exercise a part of your life.
For me, the best part about Jiu-Jitsu isn’t that it makes me fit, gives me confidence, or teaches me how to defend myself if I need to.
The best part about Jiu-Jitsu is that my training gives me access to an entire culture full of like-minded people who have similar goals to mine. Even if they don’t have identical goals, training allows me to meet a lot of people who are committed to the process of lifelong learning.
Group exercise has been proven to reduce depression because it combines 2 of the most powerful antidepressants — exercise and community.
Working out is great for your mental health, but working out with other people in the name of a common goal is better.
Become socially selective.
However, it’s not the number of friends that matters (contrary to what Facebook might teach you), it’s the quality of your friends. The quickest way to create meaning in your life today is to become selective to who you dedicate your time and energy.
Reducing stressful relationships will increase meaning in your life, and you’ll realize how much energy you’ve been using up on people who aren’t worth it.
This newfound energy will give you the power to discover new things that make life worth living.
Find something worth being uncomfortable for.
People think they need a “passion” or a “purpose” to live a meaningful life, but this just isn’t true.
Meaning comes from overcoming the tragedy of the human condition. Resilience is the ability to transcend pain.
While many great philosophers (Viktor Frankl being the first who comes to find) praise the benefits of meaningful work in our lives, you don’t need to make your passion your job. However, finding something that is sacred to you gives all of life a purpose. Suffering through a painful job or an uncomfortable experience is worth it when there’s something sacred to look forward to.
When the benefit outweighs the cost, your suffering becomes something you can transcend.
For me, for example, I’m in the middle of cutting weight for a martial arts competition that is this weekend. I have to lose 10 pounds in 3 days. Suffering through this weight is worth it because when the weight cut is done, I’ll be able to step on the mat Saturday and do my favorite thing: showcase my Jiu-Jitsu.
Develop the courage to take on low-risk challenges.
Challenges are another way that you can add meaning to your life.
However, for some of us, life doesn’t always give us these grand challenges that you see in the movies.
Sometimes, life is lame.
Maybe you’re not trying to become a martial arts world champion or a bestselling author. Maybe you’re like most people, and you just want your day-to-day life to have less pain. The way that you do this is that you begin low-risk challenges that are on the edge of your comfort zone.
Your comfort zone has layers. It’s like an onion or an ogre. It’s not a country that you can just leave by crossing a line. You have to slowly work your way to your limits, and you really shouldn’t push past them all that much.
It’s stupid to go from not challenging yourself at all to pushing yourself to the absolute brink. This is how you burn out, get injured, and quit.
This is why most people think that it’s unhealthy to challenge themselves. If you keep jumping into the deep end, you’re probably going to drown.
Don’t do that. Take low-risk challenges that excite you.
Pull your head out of the Neverland that is the internet and your imagination.
The hustle porn on the internet is obscene.
Hard work this, “grind don’t stop” that, discipline this, “get that money” that.
It’s lame. It’s exhausting.
It’s a sign of a shallow culture.
Real meaning in your life doesn’t come from Instagram bullshit, whatever stories you hear on some dude’s podcast or random people with blogs like me.
This content can be motivating and inspiring, but it also can get most caught in the trap of false accomplishment.
False accomplishment is the sensation of success that you have when you watch a motivational video, plan a workout, or talk about your goals. While planning and watching videos and talking is great, meaning comes through action upon events that are in your real life, not in your head or on the internet.
Stop thinking about doing meaningful things and start actually doing them.
This is the method I’m working on implementing right now. It starts with a single step.
Each of these “methods to meaning” is physically easy to implement, but mentally they can be very challenging.
This is because our society has conditioned us to do easy things, and meaning lies on the other side of struggles. Meaning, at its core, comes from overcoming obstacles, and our society is designed in a way that seeks to numb us of obstacles.
Why take the stairs when we have elevators?
Why read a book when you watch Netflix?
Why eat broccoli when you can have gummy bears?
The choice is yours, but a meaningful life comes from doing the hard things more frequently.
A meaningful life comes from getting yourself excited to do things that are challenging.
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