Hi from Sophie.
In the busyness of life how do we create a life with meaning?
At the start of this year, I wrote about feeling vulnerable and losing touch with my authentic self.
One of the touchstones was feeling like I had lost a sense of meaning in daily life, something so many of us feel.
It's all too easy to get swept up in the daily pressures, the endless to do list that never gets done.
And while we thrive on being wanted, needed and giving our time and effort towards others, how often do we step back and say-what do I actually want?
What am I doing in my life that gives it a sense of meaning?
And science tells us that meaning does matter.
I wrote about the pursuit of happiness (and meaning) in my book Roadtesting Happiness.
It was my search for meaning after my mother had died.
What I learnt about meaning came from the father of positive psychology Prof Martin Seligman, from the department of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.
He defined the happiest life as the one with a true sense of meaning.
I didn't quite grasp what he means until he explained.
"The meaningful life is about finding a deeper sense of fulfilment by using your strengths in the service of something larger than yourself and nourishing others," he said.
His studies found that the pursuit of pleasure on its own had no bearing on increasing happiness but that the pursuit of meaning itself was the strongest factor in increasing your life satisfaction.
And in my own way, I understand what he meant.
Writing a book on happiness, through the lens of grief, has helped others in the fog of sadness to see a way forward.
I always remember a particular letter I received from a young mother whose twin girls had died shortly after being born.
"No one else helped me understand that it was okay to feel sad and devastated by what had happened, but that it was also okay to search for a way forward into happiness," she wrote.
"Your book gave me that."
When I read those words, it hit me. That was my sense of meaning, that I could feel so grateful to be able to help others, even if it was just one other person, to find a way forward when all hope seemed lost.
My challenge to you is to consider:
What are you doing when you feel the most energised and fulfilled?
What do you love that fills you with joy?
How can you be more open to change and seizing everything life has to offer?
Inevitably, there may be obstacles and difficulties that arise on your journey.
Problems might crop up at work or at home or you might be disappointed with the way thing in your life turns out.
How do you hang onto that sense of meaning and not be discouraged?
I found inspiration in the words of the Dalai Lama.
When he encounters problems or difficulties, he finds it helpful to stand back and take the long-term view rather than a short term one.
Determination, effort and time are the essential ingredients of happiness and meaning, according to the Dalai Lama.
By looking at the situation from a wider perspective, it helps you to realise that things are not always going to be the way they are now.
It helps you not to lose hope and to keep focused on your goal of being happier and living a more meaningful life.
How do you find and keep a sense of meaning in your life?
Until next time.
Sophie is the ABC's National Medical reporter. Subscribe to her popular blog
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