How to write about meaning in your Flourish Journal
“Happiness is born from having a sense that life is meaningful and worthwhile.” Story Pieces
Following meaningful pursuits makes us happy. But what exactly do we mean by living a meaningful life? In Life Purpose Boot Camp, Eric Maisel suggests that meaning is a psychological experience in the same way that emotions are. Like any psychological experience, meaning comes and goes, so that an activity that feels meaningful one day may feel devoid of meaning on another. Meaning comes from how we think about the life we have and the life we want.
The problem is that we often have little idea about what is meaningful to us. Although we are fairly good at recognising the big activities that bring meaning, such as spending time with family or taking a hike in nature, we often fail to recognise all the smaller activities that provide opportunities for meaning, such as playing with my cat or going out for ice cream.
Eric Maisel (Life Purpose Boot Camp) suggests that we can incorporate more meaning into our lives by making meaning investments and creating meaning opportunities.
Meaning investments. We make meaning investments by investing our time and energy into a given activity or way of being. The activity may not feel meaningful but if we are doing it because it aligns with our values, principles, and life purposes we can give it our full attention and effort and, just maybe, it will ultimately turn into something meaningful. This type of transformation may occur with activities that initially feel tiresome, such as running or learning to play an instrument.
Meaning opportunities. We can also allow the possibility of more meaning in our lives by organising our days around meaning opportunities. These are activities that have the potential to arouse the psychological experience of meaning, although they may not always do so. Anything can become a meaning opportunity, but there are some activities or states of being that regularly elicit meaning in people, such as: love & relationships, service & stewardship, good works & ethical actions, excellence & achievement, good career, experimentation, excitement & adventure, creativity & self-actualisation, sensory stimulation & pleasure, contentment, and appreciation.
Using your Flourish Journal to bring more meaning into your life
You can use your Flourish Journal to write yourself happy. We explore how to write about purpose and meaning to increase our levels of happiness in our online course: Flourish: Experiments in Happiness. Here is one of the exercises we explore to help you live a more meaningful life.
- Create a list of meaning opportunities. Include activities that have provoked the feeling of meaning for you in the past, along with similar activities that might have the potential to elicit meaning in the future. You might want to include specific activities and states (e.g., visiting with Grandma or practicing loving kindness) along with some abstract categories (e.g., just being, slowing down, or being creative). As meaning-making activities can change across a lifetime, ensure that you update this list at least every 6 months.
- Schedule small and varying amounts of time into your diary for each day this week (taking into consideration your other obligations) to engage in some of these meaning-making activities.
- Notice how consciously engaging in activities and states of being that are meaningful to you impacts on your levels of happiness.
You might also be interested in our blog post: How to use positive emotions in your Flourish Journal.Back