This attribute has a lot to do with purpose- does your life have meaning, does it have a purpose? One of the first activities we did was to look at Hedonic versus Eudaimonic short-term and long-term activities. Leisure, rest, fun and enjoyment were balanced out with learning skills, life-long learning, and helping others. It was an interesting activity to tune us into how we spent our time and what quadrant we generally focused on. Being a teacher, I am more balanced in the quadrants than I would have first thought (as I definitely take my leisure time seriously)…
Research from Bonebright et al 200 and King et al 2006 found that people who can identify a source of meaning in their lives experience greater happiness and satisfaction, are physically and emotionally happier, are more resilient and feel a greater sense of control over their lives, than others who feel lesser ‘meaning’ in their lives.
Meaningful lives must feel worthwhile, but it must also BE worthwhile. That is why those who show altruism seem to be more satisfied in their lives. Some people draw the notion of service from a variety of places: religion, charity, working in a service industry. Altruism doesn’t mean that you have to have a ‘big’ life, or giving millions to charity, it is more your outlook on life- are you generous with your time, your skills?
It was a powerful activity to then learning more about ourselves, who we are to others and what we give to others. Unlike Clarence in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, who felt that his life hadn’t really touched anyone else’s, it was good to ask those questions of myself, and try to answer them! Another activity that seemed useful was to imagine the ‘future you’. Not necessarily your eulogy, but a moment in future time where you reflect on your life- what will you remember, what will you have done? How do you think you might be remembered by those around you?
Such great questions to ask yourself… and ones that definitely inspire me to be a better person.