Sometime ago, I was asked to give a talk to a group of undergraduates on “How to Create a Meaningful Life.” The talk itsef went on for about an hour, too long to encapsulate here, nevertheless below please find the key points I tried to make for the students:
- It’s never too early or too late to begin constructing a meaningful life for yourself.
- The first step is learning more about yourself and identifying your unique talents, interests, resources and passions. In other words, figuring out what you bring to the world.
- Pay attention to things that enrich your life and the lives of others. Do them more often, and avoid things that waste your time and do not benefit others.
- Keep a journal or a record of that which you experience in life, and the conversations you have with yourself. Note events or gifts for which you are grateful, and be grateful for everything you have.
- Don’t dwell on negative emotions or disappointments of the past, learn from them and move on. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
- Share yourself with others. Help and contribute to the betterment of the human condition and the state of our planet. Try to do no harm. Lead an honorable life and make the world better for having been here.
- Love and allow yourself to be loved.
Note: Some have suggested that one way of measuring whether one has had a meaningful life is to count the attendees at their funeral. Although I suppose there is some truth to this, few of us will have a million mourners come that day. Hence, the measure of a meaningful life likely has at least as much to do with quality, rather than quantity. Nevertheless, it would be hard to argue that one has had a meaningful life yet had never acquired the love and respect of others or had never helped a soul. The good news is that many of us underestimate the amount of good we do for others. It is not until after we are no longer here that the true tale of our lives can be told and some meaning can hopefully be attributed to it.