Seeing the rainbow up in clouds

I’m looking for meaning in life

Yan-Hua Chen

“I wander around day after day like a dead-walking man, I need someone or unnamed power that tells me which way to go…”

Before becoming university students, most people live simpler lives. They focus their attention on one goal─getting into a university. However, after finally making the grade and gaining college acceptance, many people are left to wonder about their future. They struggle to find meaningful goals that are fueled by their passions and lead to a meaningful and successful lifetime pursuit.

Why is it so important to search a life meaning?

The search for meaning in life is a continuous process throughout an individual’s life. Every person faces different life challenges in different life stages. For university students who are going to graduate from university, one of the major shifts in their life is about to happen to leave school as a student and enter the workplace world as an adult. This transition causes many students to feel anxious, especially when they find out that they don’t know what they want or know where they are heading.

Victor Frankl, one of the founders of existential therapy, once said, “The core human concern is not to pursue happiness or to avoid pain, but to realize a life meaning that is unique to each person.” Some believe that his words mean that an understanding of what we are doing and why we are suffering leads to a discovery of reasons for our existence. Perhaps, however, Frankl simply points us toward our own unique paths. Wherever we head and whatever we choose becomes meaningful when we make it our own way, when we understand this as unique to our own existing.

Discovering the life meaning

The question of “What should I do to find out the meaning of my own life?” becomes meaningful when a second question follows… “How can I find my life meaning by doing something?” The keys in this question are the words doing something. Remember that doing anything is unique to that which you will do. Frankl suggested that there are three ways by which people find out their meaning in life:

By creating

People create meaning in their lives by creating works in which they find interest, their passion or simply by doing what they enjoy doing, e.g. hobbies, or exercise, songwriting, music, writing, decorating, shopping, dog-walking, painting, movie making, blogging, hot-springing, bike riding, mountain climbing, traveling, visiting friends, etc.

By experiencing

By experiencing the wonderful things in Daily life, such as art, music, the beauty of nature, being loved by others and loving others, and so on, people will sense their meaning in their life in their own unique relationships and ways.

By changing attitudes toward life

Our attitudes toward the difficulties in life determine how meaningful our life becomes. We always have the freedom to decide the attitudes that we take relative to the difficulties we are facing. Frankl faced survival against all odds in a Nazi concentration camp. He found a powerful life force and meaning from the difficulties he miraculously survived. When we become aware of our own suffering in a difficult experience, there is an opportunity for transformation, a possibility of discovering in the difficulty the energy of making new meaning, a unique meaning for our life.

Freedom, choice and responsibility

Dear friends, do you notice an important message conveyed in this article? Everyone faces three important life issues in the process of discovering meaning in their life: freedom, choice and responsibility. No matter the situation, we can choose where we stand and what attitude we adopt toward who and what we face. We can decide what kind of person we want to be. Thus, making choices and being responsible for our decisions is key.

When we feel overwhelmed by difficulties in life, we usually forget that we have the freedom of choice in every situation. However, if we can realize that we ourselves are the authors of our own lives, we will feel more content and happy and able to go on creating, experiencing, and changing not only our attitudes but also our ways of finding meaning in our lives.