Meaning can be elusive, like a fleeting glimpse that seems just out of reach.
How do you find it and hold it?
The fact is that meaning is more of a process and activity than a prize or plateau that any of us can achieve.
But it is true that some people have much more inner fulfillment and meaningful lives than others.
An important key to this lies in what they cut out of their lives. If you want more meaning in your life, say goodbye to these habits too.
Postponing things until tomorrow ultimately leads to a shortage of tomorrow.
Everyone I know, including myself, procrastinates from time to time, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
But make a New Year’s resolution (it’s not too late!) to be more action-oriented and accept fewer excuses you give yourself.
Taking time to relax is important, but it can definitely go too far.
If you chillmax too often, it can become a bad habit, sapping the motivation out of your day and making the week feel shaky.
These end up being years: years in which you could have pursued your goals.
As Urban Dictionary explains:
“Chillmax is a state of complete relaxation and maximum chill. It is the ultimate level of being cool, calm and collected, without worry or stress.”
3) Chasing trends
There are some trends worth paying attention to, and others that will just waste your time.
But the habit of chasing trends and trying to copy them is always disempowering.
It makes you the servant of chasing outside validation and popularity, chasing an imagined approval or popularity that might come from following a great new fad.
In the end it only leads to more emptiness.
4) Approval seeking behavior
The habit of seeking approval often has its roots in early childhood and not getting the love and attention you deserved.
The problem with seeking approval is that it tends to create the opposite effect:
People become more and more hesitant to interact with you and include you, and you begin to feel even more in need of knowing that you are truly valuable.
From there the cycle only tends to go down.
5) Excessive use of social media
Social media is full of people posting their best selves, arguing with strangers, and gossiping.
It can lead to feelings of jealousy, alienation and loneliness.
It can also make you feel inadequate and looking for interaction and validation.
How many followers do you actually have? This is no longer a meaningful question when you have real meaning in your life.
6) Material poisoning
Material wealth and possessions can clearly provide a certain amount of happiness and satisfaction, but at some point they can actually do the opposite.
It’s great to have things to guide you through meaningful relationships and goals in your life.
Having things as a substitute for a deeper meaning in your life is a disillusioning and depressing experience.
7) High expectations
It is very difficult to find meaning when you approach life with high expectations.
The key to effectiveness is having moderate or low expectations, combined with an extremely high work ethic and action-oriented plans.
When you don’t expect much, but work hard, great things happen.
If you find that your life doesn’t have much meaning, do your best to put aside expectations and beliefs about what should be the case and focus more on what is the case.
8) Constant comparison
Comparing yourself to others is sometimes unavoidable, but it should not become a habit.
The end result is that you feel like you’re falling even further behind and stuck with disempowering feelings of jealousy and unworthiness.
Instead of feeling like you’re doing okay when you see people struggling and realize you have a lot going for you and a lot to give, you look around at those who seem to be doing better than you and you feel a sense of loss.
Jealousy is the inevitable result of spending too much time in comparison, as you find those who seem to have a more meaningful life and resent it.
9) Excessive self-criticism
This goes hand in hand with too much comparison and is a bad habit that seeps meaning out of life:
Blaming yourself too much.
Much of what happens is beyond our control self-blame can become a self-destructive attempt to regain some sense of order in life.
But not everything is your fault, in fact, very little may be your fault. Base your life on moving forward from a solid foundation, rather than doubting your worth.
10) Staying stuck in the past
Dwelling on the past is dangerous and takes your attention away from the present.
It’s like driving a car while looking in your rearview mirror all the time:
You miss what’s right in front of you and you could have a very nasty accident.
Past pain and experiences can hold valuable lessons, but don’t let the past become the master of your present.
11) Adopting the victim narrative
We have all been treated unfairly by others and become victims of events in our lives.
Some of us have certainly been victimized more than others.
But adopting the victim mentality and victim narrative is still a choice. While it may lead to more sympathy and attention (at least in the short term), it is also ultimately a self-defeating choice.
You start taking too much of your own medicine and honestly believe that you are the biggest victim in history and that life owes you that.
The problem is that yelling “it’s not fair” often just makes people avoid you, rather than getting what you want.
12) Getting lost in a social role
Our social roles can ultimately become a deceptive mask.
I’m not saying that being “the good wife” or “the supportive coworker” is bad or necessarily disingenuous.
But none of us can be completely defined by just one aspect of ourselves and one social role we play.
Get rid of the habit of defining yourself in a simplistic way.
You are a complex being with many sides, and your life will become more meaningful as you let go of the need to be easily defined or understood by the majority of people.
13) Stay in your comfort zone
Much of your best growth happens when you least expect it and you feel uncomfortable and under pressure.
Staying in your comfort zone for too long can lead to complacency and sluggishness.
The solution is to find a way to motivate yourself into your discomfort zone, where you are pushed a little more to ask more of yourself and do more with your life.
That’s when the real meaning starts to show up in a big way.
14) Ignoring your spiritual needs
Spirituality and religion are important, and it is good to get rid of the habit downplaying your spiritual needs.
These things are important for your well-being and for your overall sense of clarity and direction in life.
Whatever path works for you, avoid the habit of hiding from your spiritual side.
Eventually these needs will reassert themselves, and whatever meaning you find in them will not mean much without a spiritual aspect.
15) Dating out of need rather than desire
Deciding to date someone should be something you actually want, rather than doing it because you see no other option.
Far too many people become involved out of a desire for companionship, intimacy, or a relationship, rather than out of any particular attraction.
This is the wrong basis for a relationship, which must be chosen and voluntary.
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