3 ways to give your life meaning and purpose

Remind yourself of the meaning and purpose of your life by focusing on the past, present and future.
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It’s hardly very scientific, but I have a sense that over time my differing answers to the question “What’s the point of life?” would in themselves form a pretty good indicator of my mood.

When things are better, I can feel there’s everything to live for. But in the past when they’ve not been so great, I’m disappointed to admit that everything has felt rather pointless.

Perhaps, like me, you do better when you feel you have a role in life, a part to play? Maybe you’d agree that everything is easier to deal with when you believe you’re living a life with meaning and purpose?

Unfortunately low mood can gnaw away at such sentiments, leaving you feeling isolated and unneeded, and it’s at times like this that I think it can help to actively focus on “meaning and purpose” in three ways – past, present and future:

1. Past. Think back to times in your life during which you felt like you were part of something bigger than you may do right now. Perhaps this was when you were at school? Maybe there was a period when you were particularly close to your family? Or was there someone who really depended on you? Remind yourself how this felt, trying to create as detailed a picture as possible of it in your mind. A vivid memory such as this may help you see that things have not always been as they are right now, and they’ll almost certainly get better.

2. Present. The dark lens of sadness can twist your thinking, leaving you feeling that nothing matters, especially yourself. It can create a false world in which you believe you matter to no-one. But I bet that’s not true. I bet there are at least a few of people whose lives are enriched by having you in them. Chances are you’re forgetting them, so why not work on bringing them to the front of your mind? Remind yourself of the difference you’re already making.

3. Future. Would you like to be part of something bigger in the future? Today’s a great time to start making that happen. I was pleased to come across a long list of volunteer opportunities in my local area when I searched on Google the other day, and things could be similar where you are. Maybe you could offer to mentor someone? Or you could help out at your local library. Some or other group could probably use your help, whether it’s making coffee or sticking up posters. The thing is, you absolutely do have it in your power to build more meaning into your life.

On a bad day you’ll probably feel there’s a vast distance between where you are now and having a life with meaning, but you know what they say about a journey of a thousand miles, don’t you?

It begins with a single step.

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