What Leads To A Meaningful Life?

By Danielle Osborne.

What leads to a meaningful life? This is a question asked by most people at some point in their life. I have come to the conclusion that there are five ideas that need to organized, understood, and prioritized to achieve a meaningful life.

The first is not feeling sorry for yourself. Ever since I can remember, I have always had trouble knowing when it is acceptable to pity myself. Because of this, I would make big deals out of nothing and end up losing friends, in addition to causing contention within my family. As I got older, I saw the consequences of pity and condemned it as a toxic feeling. Self-pity is toxic if you let it control you. There are certain hardships in everyone’s life, and pity is a part of accepting that those struggles are real. Obviously, I can’t succeed to my full potential in life feeling sorry for myself all the time. I shouldn’t feel pity for things I cause for myself, but if the “struggle” is out of my control, a little wallowing is okay. If I get overwhelmed or put too much on my plate, I know that those feelings can be resolved without pitying myself.

The second is not having regrets. I go through every day asking myself, “How will what I’m doing today affect me in five years?” I ask this question because I don’t want to waste my time doing things that don’t matter. Somehow I always end up regretting decisions, no matter how much I try to prevent that horrible feeling. I think this is because regret comes from making a decision either based solely on emotion or  solely on logic and not both. I ask myself questions like, “What was I thinking??” or “Why didn’t I do that??”. Asking these questions hurts my self-esteem, which causes me to go about my choices with clouded judgement, leading to more regrets. I learned that to stop this cycle of an unmeaningful life, I have to come to terms with what makes me happy and fill my day with those things. I need to live life like it’s my day while still thinking logically.

The third is keeping family close. I always thought that family was the most important to me, but sometimes I get so caught in that never-ending cycle of school, crazy friends, and other now seemingly unimportant events. I realized that I have been taking my supportive and loving family for granted. I believe family and knowledge are the only things we take with us when we die. I know that if I even spent half as much time with my family as I did on social media, with friends, watching Netflix or making myself busy, I would be be much happier. I realized that I could be blessing myself and my family’s lives if I made them more of a priority in my life.

The fourth is understanding, feeling, and controlling emotions. Emotions are such a big part of everyone’s lives. Personally, my emotions are always changing. They shape who I am and how I treat the people around me. I have continually tried not to feel emotion because most come with pain and suffering. The most apparent are anxiety and stress. Throughout my life I have laughed my struggles away hoping that I would forget they existed, convincing myself that I didn’t care. For example, when I was ten years old, I found out that my best friend had cancer so I stayed up all night sewing and pushing away emotion. I never knew how to deal with it until this year. The concept that it was good to feel emotion was bizarre to me. You need to feel the emotion fully, and then detach. Only then can healing come.

The fifth is money. Money distracts and corrupts. I planned how my life would turn out around a  career that would make a lot of money. I worked and worked with the goal in mind that I would be successful. Not successful in a fulfilling life, but that I would be well-off. I realize that money is a material possession and unimportant. I can’t buy happiness, I can’t buy the perfect husband, I can’t buy a good personality, and I definitely can’t buy a meaningful life. So what’s the point? Money should help me get to my goals, it shouldn’t be my goal. There are components other than money and power that lead to a meaningful life. Now the question is, how much effort will you put in to have a meaningful life? If people could just pause for a second and realize how much they have control over, they would be much happier. People don’t need to spend their time worrying about what they cant control, instead they can change what they can.

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