One of life’s biggest questions is, “What is my ultimate meaning and purpose?” Discovering the purpose of life and finding meaning for why we are here is a quest taken to find greater happiness, wisdom, and our vocational calling. Meaning helps us make sense of life and deal with our struggles and problems. It helps us relate to others and God in a more intimate manner, and reveals to us how we can live a life committed to something significant. In order to take ownership of our life and move forward to the best of our ability, there are eight questions that we can answer to resolve some uncertainty about our existence. These are adapted from Psychologist Paul T. P. Wong’s The Quest for Meaning Scale (QMS).
8 questions to uncover meaning
1. Who am I? Consider who you are deep down inside. Who is the real you without external conditions? Who are you without your relationships, job, and possessions? 2. How and where do I find happiness? Consider what offers you joy and fulfillment as well as why you are dissatisfied with certain aspects of life. The cause of joy and satisfaction is different for everyone. In what situations do you have a noticeable sense of happiness and joy? In what life domains do you need to make changes? 3. What should I do with my life? Consider you life mission and how you want to live your life. Is there a particular cause you are passionate about? What activities and responsibilities excite you? What would be an ideal lifestyle that fits with your values? 4. How can I avoid making the wrong choices in the major areas of my life? How can you start making the right decisions and how will you know when you’re doing so? Consider what you have learned from past mistakes and struggles. Look for common patterns in your life that tend to cause pain and suffering. These patterns can be found in relationships, work, finances, etc. Find these destructive themes and change them. 5. Where do I belong? Having a connection and sense of belonging is crucial for meaning. Where can you feel a sense of affiliation and acceptance? Consider your meaningful relationships and the community around you. Does your community and surrounding environment offer a sense of belonging? 6. What is the point of all my striving? What is the point of all your hard work and commitment when life is so short? Consider your reasons for striving for success and achievement. Why is it that you seek more and desire to expand your lot in life? Uncover this and you will find immense motivation. 7. What will happen to me after I die? There is a major spiritual component to making meaning. What are your beliefs about the afterlife? Do you live with fear of death or are you content and peaceful about your soul’s destination? Consider your belief system and how it impacts your perception of life and death. Is it offering comfort and peace, or fear, worry, and doubt? 8. What would make my life more meaningful and significant? What would give you a sense of well-being and belonging? What does living a “good life” mean to you? Pay attention to your “gut” or spirit, and identify what fills you with vitality and purpose. Answer these questions to start coming to terms with what you want from life. Determine where you still have some uncertainty and clarify your answer to make more sense of life.
Sources of meaning
Achievement and work – We can find meaning in our work and occupation as well as with the accomplishment of our goals and aspirations. What are your talents, skills, and strengths and how can you apply them to self-growth and achievement? Spirituality – Spirituality offer a chance to enhance gratitude for what we have and hope for the future. Knowing there is something beyond our immediate existence provides encouragement that we can push beyond limits and become a better person. It also allows us to make sense of life’s mysteries. Relationships – There is nothing more meaningful than having loving relationships where there is emotional intimacy and connection. We all need relationships to help us grow and develop. Relationships provide a context for much of what we do and are an important factor for making decisions. Self-transcendence – When we dedicate our life to doing something beyond ourselves we realize what it’s like to feel significant. Understanding there is more to life than our personal fulfillment can expand our reason for living and alter our life’s purpose. Practice reaching beyond yourself to people you love or causes you care about. Self-acceptance – Having self-awareness about our motives in the world can help us uncover meaning. This will involve coming to terms with our negative and positive traits and understanding that self-growth is an inherent part of fulfilling our life mission. Accept who you are today, but begin doing the work to become the person necessary to fulfill your desires. Hopefully these ideas give you better sense of who you are and your place in the world. Keep refining your life philosophy and worldview. Be willing to ask “Why am I here?” As you begin living with a greater sense of meaning you will grow more confident and find a greater sense of fulfillment. You will be able to deal with difficult situations and grow into a more enthusiastic and courageous person.
I remember the first time I read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. A friend lent it to me when I was about 19 and going through a difficult time. I got kicked out of where I was living, received some upsetting medical results, and was having relationships difficulties to boot. Frankl’s message of an unwavering life purpose and meaning helped me realize that no matter what takes place in life we still have free will to act as we choose, and the capacity to make meaning for better or worse. Giving up doesn’t have to be an option and we are not passive victims. I believe everyone is alive to express their talents and passions to world. As I reviewed the questions in the post and contemplated my life meaning today, I realize the importance of a spiritual focus. Difficult decisions, our life calling, and awareness of our potential is supported by a spiritual foundation. I believe we can have a sense of meaning without spirituality, but I have realized that spirituality is paramount to living a life of meaning for me. I will be dedicating much of my personal growth to spirituality over the next few months and will keep you posted on my experience and process.