How To Have A Meaningful Life

how to have a meaningful life

You walk to a deserted park bench in your track pants, eating Doritos.

Suddenly, in the dwindling light of the evening you have an epiphany:  you're an unsuccessful, unattractive lump of decaying lard.  You're obese, your ankles ache from numerous varicose veins, you're single, your B.O really stinks, you have no hobbies, and you have no job.  Basically, you're meaningless and life isn't a box of chocolates.  No.  Life is a box of discarded, rat-eaten potato chips.  Each one tastes the same.  And each day is the same - ambling, aimless and asinine.

It is then, amongst the quagmire of your wasteland of thoughts that you see a single apple core on the ground, two feet away.  You move your large derrière off the seat and pick it up carefully in your bulging fingers.  Then, you place it next to a tree and watch, wistfully.  You feel like that apple core - discarded, used and forgotten.  So you sit, and watch it empathetically.  Then, suddenly, a bird flies down, cautiously pecks the apple core, picks it up, and flies away to its nest.  You watch, stunned.  Warmth fills your entire body.  You smile.  And you understand.

Feeling Meaningless And Empty

We've all felt unsuccessful and purposeless in our lives.  How many times have you woken up one day and sadly wondered "what difference have I made to the world?"  If you're anything like me, you would have been confronted with these sobering thoughts and desperately wondered what great achievement you could pursue to fill that empty hole of purposelessness inside of you.

You think to yourself "Quick!  Time is running out!  Time is running out!" and you eventually collapse in vain, wound up in your grandiose thoughts, ideals and hefty expectations of what you "should" achieve.

We say to ourselves "But look, look!  He/she/they accomplished this, built that, started this, did that.  And how marvelously great they are!"  And we strive to do the same.

The sad thing is, many of us give up before we get there.  But it's ridiculous to expect that we ever would.  You see, may of us set out to fill our empty spaces, and to seize the moment, with expectations that are too unrealistic and too momentous to actually accomplish.  We bite off more than we can chew and then choke and wonder, in tears, how we can ever have a meaningful life.  Luckily, there is an answer.

Start small

When you remove your egotistical desire to achieve greatness or become the world's Number 1 philanthropic saint, you remove pressure from yourself.  You don't do things from a desire to make yourself bigger, but a desire to make yourself wholer.  When you decide to start small-scale, you make the decision to live a life of meaning, instantaneously.  Fulfillment to you is no longer a future land of milk and honey, but a present moment joy, a present moment wholeness.

And what can be more meaningful than making your present life happy and purposeful?

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But how, you ask, how can I have a meaningful life right now?  In 2 seconds?

How To Have A Meaningful Life In 2 Seconds

Let me share with you an incident that inspired this article.  I thank Sol, my inspiration, for his quirks that generated these thoughts.

After returning from an evening walk in the drizzle, Sol bent over, picked up a snail on the path and threw it to the other side of the road.

"Why did you do that!?" I cried, "You probably killed the snail!"

"No I didn't", he said, "it has a shell to protect it.  Plus, it could change the course of that snails life.  He could make a whole colony of babies there that he never would have over here".

I thought about this for a while, intrigued by the idea that one single act can change the course of another being's life.  One single, split second decision can change your life as well.  If you've ever seen the movie Amelie or The Butterfly Effect, you would perfectly know what I mean.

Even small changes to your environment can have large, long lasting effects.  For instance, just look at the interplay of the environment and mankind.  Without any bees, for instance, it's likely that we wouldn't last too long as a race of people on earth.  And if we did, it would be with great difficulty.  Bees pollinate the entire earth, allowing fruit, vegetables, trees and plants to grow which all provide us with sustenance.  If bees dies plants die, then herbivores die, then carnivores die, then we die.

So just imagine the possibilities.  Even one single decision to say, steal, can change the course of your life.  Even the daisy that you find on the edge of the bus stop seat that you give to the girl next to you, can alter your life forever.  Every single decision has an effect on the world and the people in it.  Scary isn't it?  But absolutely life-changing!

In less than 2 seconds you can potentially alter the world, or make someone's life better.  Even simply by placing a flower on someone's letter box.  Or leaving a note with a smiley face in a library book.  Or sending anonymous love letters to the local nursing home.  Even these seemingly small acts can generate great joy for others, or even have life-changing affects.

When you realize this, it's no longer necessary to see your achievements, or to bask in their glory.  Any simple act fueled by a desire to live a meaningful life and make a difference is enough fulfillment.

Why not give it a go?  Now.  Go out and drop a coin on the floor, or wink at a person, or draw a picture to leave on a park bench.  You may just have a meaningful life in 2 seconds.  And maybe even fill that empty hole inside of you.

What spontaneous acts of meaning have you done to make a difference in order to have a meaningful life?  Please feel free to share any below with me!

Photo by: Lotus Carroll

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