Finding Meaning in Everyday Life

Clients come to my office for a number of reasons. For example, when they’re feeling depressed, when they’re feeling anxious, and when they are experiencing conflict in their relationships, but also when they’ve become bored with their lives.

For these people, meaning and engagement in life seemed to have disappeared without conscious awareness, and not all of a sudden. Instead, it seemed to filter out slowly and they just woke up one day and experienced an emptiness that wasn’t previously there.

The sort of passion, energy, and curiosity they once had about life had slipped away, and in the absence of it, they felt lost, unmotivated, and not at all certain about how to get it back.

Sound like you?

So when I’m faced with clients who live a ‘ho hum’ existence that offers them little opportunity to stretch their wings so they can discover who they are, and what they’re capable of, some of the questions I usually ask is what, in years gone by, were they curious about?

What made them laugh? What caused them to experience excitement and challenge in their life? Was there a time when they couldn’t wait to get out of bed so they could engage in whatever made them feel truly alive? And if so, what were they doing at the time that caused them to feel that way?

In other words, what elements existed then that no longer do? What made their view of life change, such that they no longer experience it in the same way?

Part of the problem, I’ve come to believe, is that people who search for meaning in their lives often bypass the simpler, and more every day, experiences that usually make up the larger meaning of one’s life.

In other words, rather than searching for the one and only thing that will help them understand why they were put on this earth, or a hunt down a singular way to make an everlasting and profound difference to the larger society, we sometimes forget to seek out answers to life’s meaning that might be discovered down several different avenues closer to home.

For example, learning a new language, or taking up one that had been started at one time and later dropped; becoming a volunteer in an organization that holds personal meaning for whatever reason; adopting a new kitten or puppy; taking a university or college course; beginning a new fitness program that involves others with similar interests; consider changing jobs, or even professions; or reacquainting oneself with friendships that perhaps had slipped away over time.

These are only a few ideas but it’s important to remember that we can find multiple meanings in our lives. I previously mentioned, there isn’t just one justification for our existence; there an unlimited number of ways to experience engagement in one’s life, and ways that might not stay the same over time.

In fact, what was meaningful to us at one point in life, may no longer seem as compelling now.

I believe that as we change, and even as we age, our definition of what’s meaningful changes with us. So if we lose the ‘thread’ of what it used to be, we need to rediscover how we might define it today.

And if you’re bored to death with your life, don’t fret. Know that the boredom you’re experiencing is a vital tool for pushing you out of the places where life has become routine and stale, and toward a direction of internal and external revitalization.

On my fridge, I have a reminder of one of the necessary ingredients of my emotional and mental well-being, and it’s played a huge part in my life for well over three decades.

The quote simply states that: “[t]he greatest happiness is curiosity”, and I know it to be true; the lack of curiosity often leads to a dull, unchallenging, and boring life for many of us, and if it’s not addressed, depression can often follow closely behind.

And when we get to that point, it becomes tremendously difficult to break out of the inertness that has slowly swallowed us, but break out of it we must or life will seem increasingly meaningless.

So take some time to discover what you may find curious now – listening to a TED Talk once a day might help – and you gain a curiosity about things you may never have considered interesting before.

The idea is to stretch yourself to look at life from different perspectives – especially if you’ve lost your own – and in the end, you’ll likely trigger a spark of curiosity and interest that results in fostering far greater meaning for your life on a daily basis.

What can you start doing today to get out of your feeling of boredom?