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I had a discussion recently with my partner about the meaning of life. We both admitted we struggled with this concept. How do we create a meaningful life?
My days are a frazzled blur of child-rearing, work, errands, driving, cleaning, and cooking. Some days I literally fall into bed wondering how it was even possible I accomplished everything I did while desperately searching for tidbits of fulfillment amidst the relentless grind.
Have you ever asked yourself what the meaning of life is? Have you ever wondered, “What is the point of it all?” or, “How can I create a meaningful life?”
Now, these questions concern me, because as we all know, we only have one life, and I really do like my life, and I’m worried I’m not enjoying or appreciating it to the fullest.
It’s tough, life is busy, and life is full of problems and challenges. That’s why now, more than ever, we desperately need to put meaning back into our lives, to reconnect with feelings of ease and happiness instead of constant stress, confusion, and dissatisfaction. We can spend many hours educating ourselves on self-improvement, but without action, none of this education matters.
So I took a little time this week to reevaluate simple (but profound) ways to bring meaning back into my life, and I came up with a weeks’ worth of action items to do just that.
I’m currently in the process of applying each action step to my life. (I’m doing one each day this week). I’m clearing out the junk to make room for the meaning. Can you say #heckyeah!
I’d love for you to join me on this journey. How to create a meaningful life in 7 days will give you a blueprint, with 7 small but powerful actionable tasks you can use to put some meaning into your own life.
Another helpful pro tip is to start a simple meditation practice, even if it’s five minutes a day. Meditation will support you and help you develop the rest of your healthy habits.
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How to Create a Meaningful Life in 7 Days
Day One: Wake up early.
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”Ben Franklin
You’ve likely heard this a million times, but waking up early is a habit you should develop today. If you are a night owl and this works for you, that’s great; you don’t need to change something that’s making you happy, but first, be sure to consider the benefits of switching your routine. It has truly changed my life for the better.
Waking up early, in my experience, is one habit that is the secret ingredient for success, finding calm, and reducing stress (and hence creating meaning).
It’s an amazing way to start the day. I used to jump out of bed, frazzled, rushing to get my son to daycare, getting to work late, walking in out of breath, disheveled and exhausted. Only to realize I forgot my son’s snow pants at home! Not the best way to kick off your day.
Now, most days (but not every day, we are all human after all), I get up at 5:30, get my son’s stuff ready for school, get myself ready for work, spend half an hour doing something I want (writing, meditating, cleaning, or perhaps watching the sunrise!) I walk into work rested, calm, and ready to tackle the day. Not to mention I’ve given myself a little me time, and that is one important key to creating a meaningful life. You need time to do what you love to do; as cheesy as it sounds, you need time to do what makes your soul sing.
If you yearn to get into a routine to streamline your mornings (and whole day), prioritize nourishing your soul (before launching your day), and create a to-do list that serves (not strangles), then check out Crystal Paine’s of Moneysavingmom.com’s brand new 14-day, step-by-step course – Make Over Your Mornings.
In my opinion, waking up early sets the tone for your entire day, and there is no better way to start the day. One day this week, set your alarm for half an hour earlier, take three deep breaths before rising, avoid looking at your phone, and set an efficient morning ritual. Work your way up to a few days of early rising each week.
Day Two: Declutter your life.
Ridding clutter from your life can make you more focused, productive, and relaxed. We need to throw out what we don’t need to make space for what we do need. All our stuff is like an anchor; it weighs us down. It ruins your focus and concentration, and it’s a nagging reminder your work is never done. It’s even a dust haven and can contribute to allergies and brain fog.
Our brains love order.
In a decluttered space, your brain doesn’t have to work so hard. You feel calm and energized. As simple as it is, decluttering opens a gateway to improving many other aspects of your life.
To start the decluttering process, clean out your closets, junk drawers, and storage spaces. Pick one space per week. Don’t try to declutter all at once (we are trying to eliminate stress, not cause more). Perhaps this week, choose one drawer and focus on clearing out everything you don’t need.
Day Three: Try something new and look at the world through fresh eyes.
Do you ever feel every day is a bit like Groundhog Day? Wake up, rally the kids, go to work, pick up the kids, make dinner, clean up and get ready for bed? The alarm goes off, and the day repeats.
It’s fair to say, sometimes we get stuck in a rut.
Recently, I was speeding along on my drive to work, thinking about the mountain of emails waiting for me at work, when I decided to stop my incessant planning and look out the window. Every morning I drive by a lake, and the rising sun gleams off the water; it’s beautiful, yet I never take the time to notice.
So the next morning (because I wake up early), I went for a 15-minute walk, camera and tea in hand, before work on that very lake; it was simply refreshing. Even the smallest change in routine can make you feel excited about life again.
Once we think we know something, we stop paying attention. We drive our morning commute in a haze because we’ve trod the same route a hundred times before.Ellen Langer
If we start to see the world with fresh eyes, we realize almost everything is different all the time — the pattern of light on the storefronts, the smell in the air, the faces of the people, even the sensations and emotions we experience along the way. Noticing infuses each moment with a new, fresh quality, and we step out of the house quite differently. This is known as “beginner’s mind.” And this mindset will infuse our life with intense meaning and color.
This week pick one day and look at or engage in an activity with new eyes.
Day Four: Take a mundane task and make it interesting.
Life is full of mundane tasks. We have no choice but to engage in tasks such as laundry, dishes, and errands. But the thing is, we spend so much time — so many precious minutes of our lives doing these things, we don’t want to be miserable the entire time because that would be wasting our precious minutes.
What if we could enjoy these activities? Wouldn’t that be a game-changer? There is a way to liven these tasks up. Here’s how.
Choose a task you would like to spice up, whether it’s eating, doing the dishes, or going to work. Whatever activity you have chosen, take these steps:
1. Tune in to your senses.
3. Find a flow.
5. Ignore the future and the past; let the present be.
6. Use your imagination.
Before you engage in a task, be sure to abandon your thoughts, worries, and to-do lists. Take a deep breath and feel your body inflate with oxygen.
Enjoy the sensations in your body as you engage in the task. If you are showering, notice the water running over your body. Notice the temperature; is it hot, warm, or cool? Inhale the steam, run your hands over your body and feel the water rolling down your legs. Simply tune in. How many sensations can you notice? Try to keep your attention on these sensations for two minutes.
This practice brings color, newness, and aliveness to any activity.
Day Five: Be kind.
Kindness is a habit that can be developed anywhere, at any time, and it’s free!
Kindness isn’t just a feeling; it’s an emotion that leads to action. Kindness gives warmth to life, and each kind interaction triggers a feeling of connection and pleasure. It’s proven people who engage in kind activities are happier, have more meaning in life, and live longer.
Mounting research suggests helping others actually helps us.
So because kind actions are something that gives meaning to your life AND makes you feel happy, make an effort to do one kind action this week, whether it’s paying someone a compliment, buying someone a coffee, or simply lending a helping hand.
“Kindness is one of the most important habits we can develop on our journey to real and sustainable happiness. It is an essential key to a life lived creatively: one in which we remain healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Kindness costs little but pays huge dividends in our own lives and in the lives of those we touch. It’s a habit that paves the way to a happy life.” Peter Field, Psychotherapist
The simplest acts of kindness are far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.Mahatma Gandhi
Day Six: Let go of a resentment or grudge.
The recognition that you can choose emotional well-being, control how you feel inside will change you in spirit, mind, and body.
Holding on to resentment is bad not only physically and mentally but also for your relationships and instincts.
Do you sometimes feel like you’re on a revolving wheel repeating the same habits, thinking one day you will change?
The truth is we all have the ability to experience inner peace; sometimes, it even takes counseling on mindfulness, meditation, and reflection to learn how to let go, but the important point is anyone can get there.
I read this quote, and my apologies, but I don’t have the source. I still want to share it because it stuck with me.
“The recognition that a person can choose emotional well-being – even when things don’t turn out the way we want it – is the cornerstone of mental health.”CLICK TO TWEET
Forgiving is hard, but it can be done. Identify your feelings, what you were attached to, and what you lost.
One day this week, pick a resentment you are holding on to too tightly. Imagine this resentment in full, the hurt, the pain, the bitterness, maybe even the denial (of your own part in this outcome.) Imagine its ugliness twisted around your heart, stomach, and brain. Now picture it unclenching, unwinding, and exhale it out and watch it float into the sky. Visualize letting go and moving on. Feel the lightness and freedom. Say the words: I choose happiness, I choose to let this go. Repeat these words while breathing and exhaling.
Peaceful mind, peaceful life. Anger will stomp all over you if you let it. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we want, it can be tough, but we must choose acceptance. In a small ship rolling across a violent storm, anger will make you seasick. Accept the storm, and you will find peace amidst even the strongest waves.
Day Seven: Live with gratitude.
Gratitude is an attitude, a way of living that has been proven to have numerous health benefits. It increases happiness, satisfaction with life and improves relationships.
Gratitude changes our thought patterns from negative to positive. And this is big! Our brain likes to focus on worries, and the negative aspects of life, if we admit it’s sometimes hard to get unstuck from that quicksand way of thinking. But when we express gratitude, positive thoughts and emotions like joy, love, and happiness naturally arise. Consequently, this reduces anxiety and stress.
Gratitude is expressing thankfulness for what you already have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. (Read here for 5 things you forgot to be grateful for today).
Gratitude turns what you have into enough and more. It infuses your life with appreciation and awe.
Make a list of all the things you are thankful for. It can be anything! Keep this list by your bedside table, and remember to take a moment and read this list every day.
Final thoughts: There are many ways we can bring meaning to our lives. And the above are seven profound ways. I can guarantee if you implement a few of these habits, your life will change, you will see a shift. Most of us are searching for meaning, and the thing is, it’s already here; it’s just hiding slightly beneath the surface.
And be sure to check out the Make Over Your Morning’s 14-day course!
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