A Meaningful Life

A Meaningful Life

I recently read an article about 50 ways to be happier, healthier and more successful.

Looks interesting, I thought, nothing wrong with being more successful. Also being happy and healthy is a state I think every human has a right to experience. I was interested to see what the writer had to say on the subject. I started reading with eager anticipation only to find myself becoming more disgruntled (has anyone ever been “gruntled”?!) and increasingly unhappy the further on I read. I know that “writing style” can influence how we feel and what we think about an article. I know there will be people who find my style intensely irritating, but was it the style that was irritating me? No, not particularly. It wasn’t written as I would write, however there were some interesting points made. I put the article down and thought about it for a while. Then I understood. It was incredibly prescriptive, a bit like a checklist. It came across as being “do these and everything will be fine”. Whilst some points were interesting, some were incredibly difficult to set up, never mind making a start and maintaining momentum. It would probably take more time than I have left on this earth to wade my way through the list. One premise was we could live life on our own terms. However, in my experience life involves interacting with others and they don’t always see things our way! We don’t live in isolation. I found myself muttering things like “it’s not necessarily the same for everyone”, “does it really take 50 things to make us happy, healthy and successful”, “life isn’t a tick list”……… and on I railed.

I did find it a useful and enlightening read however. It certainly nailed home to me that I don’t really like being told what to do with my life (my mum might have something to say about that!). It also got me thinking about what gives our lives meaning? What are the things that can lead us toward being happy, healthy and more successful, assuming that is what we want in life?  I find value in being able to create a set of standards and values by which to guide my life and help give it meaning. As a coach that’s exactly what my job is. It’s not to tell people how to live their lives or what to do and hand out sage advice willy nilly. I believe it’s about helping people to discover what gives their lives meaning, for themselves, within their own frameworks. Equally important is helping them to weave those important bits into their day to day, week to week, year to year activities.

What’s important will be different for each and every one of us and it may change over the years and in differing periods of our lives. I’m sure we can all think back to high school and confidently say what was important to us then, what gave our lives meaning then was probably different to what is important to us now. These things will likely change as we grow older too. For me that’s quite exciting, I like having the opportunity to re-evaluate, to keep or tweak and change things as I go.

We could all create a list of things we believe steer us toward being happy, healthy and successful – drink less caffeine, get 8 hours sleep and night, have a good solid morning routine, eat less saturated fat, read an educational book a week etc. etc. Unless these things are meaningful to us or give us motivation to leap out of bed each day then they are simply a list of things to do.

So, what gives your life meaning? What’s really important to you? Have you ever stopped to think about it or do you just get up, do whatever you need to do, go to bed and then rinse and repeat on a daily basis? What leaves you thinking “I wish I had……” at the end of a day?

What would you really regret not doing/seeing/creating before your time is up? Don’t be fooled into thinking these things need to be grand, they don’t. They might be, but they might also be small daily activities that are simply replicated. It’s not for me or anyone else to tell you what they are. The important thing is that they are meaningful and important to you. Go on, have a think about it…… what gives your life meaning?


Jan Aitken Life Coach

Jan Aitken is a qualified Life Coach based in Dunedin. With over 8 years of experience Jan is the coach to help propel you forward and live the life you imagine.

Jan Aitken is a qualified Life Coach based in Dunedin. With over 8 years of experience Jan is the coach to help propel you forward and live the life you imagine.


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