As an Occupational Therapist, my job is to help others integrate meaningful activities into their daily life. In this article, I’ll discuss three ways we can make life more meaningful.
I’ve always been intrigued by astrophotography. I used to think most night sky images were composites of multiple images.
This was due to my failed attempts, lack of knowledge, and not having the right tools. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I captured the photo above of the night sky in an area with low light pollution.
It was pitch black and uncomfortably quiet yet peaceful. I still remember the feeling of surprise and awe to see all the stars that had been kept hidden from my eyes all those years.
Sometimes making life more meaningful is about going to a quiet place and leaving the pollution to find truth.
With knowledge, the right tools, and real intent, our understanding becomes transformed and our eyes opened.
How do we make life more meaningful
Making life more meaningful is more than improving our physical health with the prescription of diet and exercise. We make life more meaningful by being involved in meaningful relationships, activities, and feeling hope and purpose.
How to make life more meaningful with meaningful exercise
When we think about health, we usually think about setting goals. For example, we may set goals to change our exercise routine or improve our diet.
Goals are an excellent way to measure success, but when goals aren’t meaningful we may set ourselves up for failure.
Skip the Gym
Like most people, I’ve struggled to go to a gym most of my life. I’ve found it to be repetitious and difficult to feel engaged.
On the other hand, I love being out in nature, hiking, climbing, surfing, and almost any sport.
I’ve found that when I engage in these meaningful activities, I’m more inclined to push my limits and work harder.
Meaningful activities increase performance
Occupational therapy is built on the idea that meaningful activities increase physical performance.
When we engage in meaningful activities we are more intrinsically driven to participate and engage in that activity.
For example, think about the activity of running on a treadmill. For most, this activity isn’t that meaningful, but add a basketball and a goal, and the activity of running suddenly becomes more engaging.
I’m not saying to stop going to the gym, because the gym can be a meaningful activity. I’m saying that it’s important to find what’s meaningful to you and stick with it.
If you love landscape photography, try exploring more hiking destinations. If you love dancing, make it a priority over going to the gym.
Meaningful activities challenge us and make us want to work harder. They also improve our mental and cognitive heath.
How to make life more meaningful with relationships
When we add the social aspect to our meaningful activity it can become even more purposeful.
For example, playing basketball with a group of friends is always more performance driven than individual practice.
Here are a few ways we can make relationships more meaningful:
– Set a physical goal with a friend or partner
– Meet your neighbors
– Get involved in the community
– Volunteer at a local shelter
– Share your knowledge with an online community
Why we need to feel that we belong?
According to the Mayo Clinic, having a sense of belonging can improve our mental health, self esteem, and reduce feelings of suicide and depression.
It can help us cope with stress better and give us a more positive outlook on life.
Jennifer Wickham, behavioral health counselor, shares these three tips to increase feelings of belonging in children and adults:
- Make an effort
- Keep and teach an open mind
- Practice an attitude of acceptance
To learn more about this article from the Mayo Clinic click here.
Overcome conflict by letting go of fear
Conflict can be positive or negative. When we feel fear, we become defensive, make excuses, and feel shame.
Fear causes us to be the victim and blame others. This leads to contention and can cause an endless spiral of conflict.
When we let go of fear and be the first to show kindness and understanding, we begin an outward rather than inward approach to resolving conflict. This leads to collaboration.
To learn more, read this post on conflict resolution.
How to make life more meaningful with spirituality?
Today, spirituality is on the decline. Whether you’re religious or not, we all have a spiritual side, and our spiritual health is crucial to our well being.
Spirituality is part of our values and beliefs. It connects us with our life journey of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.
3 ways we can improve our spiritual health
#1 Begin a quest for truth
Starting a quest for truth is at the core of who we are as human beings. It’s why we are constantly obsessed with science, our universe, and finding happiness.
Seeking truth may include studying the religions of the world or studying our own religion more deeply. It may also include studying philosophy, culture, language, or history.
#2 Increasing personal spirituality
We can increase our personal spirituality with activities such as rituals, prayer, fasting, meditation, and studying spirituality.
We can make these activities more meaningful as we do them with a purpose. For example, if we pray for the sake of praying we may not see a benefit.
But if we pray with a purpose and sincere intent, the activity becomes more meaningful.
#3 Increase spirituality with relationships
We can increase spiritual relationships when we are involved with our community. This might include going to a church, synagogue, buddhist temple, or other holy/sacred site.
We can increase spirituality relationships with others as we serve them, develop an outward mindset, and understand their thoughts, needs, and wants.
We can also develop spiritual relationships with others by having spiritual conversations. This may include sharing personal beliefs and looking for commonalities in these shared beliefs.
The OT challenge to make life more meaningful
If you’re interested in making your life more meaningful, take the OT challenge.
- Set personal goals to make exercise more meaningful
- Set personal goals to make relationships more meaningful
- Make personal goals to make spirituality more meaningful
Try to narrow each goal to one activity. Share your goal on the OT Focus group to get inspired and inspire others.
Making life more meaningful is about living with a higher purpose. It’s about finding activities that help us perform better physically, socially, and spiritually.
When we make life more meaningful, our health improves and we contribute to the health of those around us.
I hope this article was helpful. Share ways that you make life more meaningful in the comments below.
David is the lead editor of OT Focus. He has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2013. He specializes in acute care, hand therapy, and ergonomics.