This is a poignant (paraphrased) excerpt from a great article in my all-time favorite magazine, The Atlantic.
The Meaning of Life Is Surprisingly Simple
…How do you go about finding your purpose in life without endlessly spinning your wheels?
The answer is: take that sprawling philosophical question (“What is the meaning of Life?”) and: break it down… make it manageable.
You can do so most effectively — and without too much obsessing — by assessing your life along three dimensions, which the psychologists Frank Martela and Michael F. Steger defined in The Journal of Positive Psychology in 2016:
- 1. Coherence: seeing how events fit together.
This is an understanding that things happen in your life for a reason. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can fit new developments into your narrative the moment they happen, but only that you usually are able to do so afterward… so you have faith that, even for seemingly random events, you eventually will figure out their relationship and contribution to the overarching narrative of your life.
- 2. Purpose: recognizing the existence of authentic goals and aims.
This is the belief that you are alive in order to do something. Think of purpose as your personal mission statement, such as “the purpose of my life is to share the secrets to happiness with the world” or “I am here to spread love abundantly in every waking action.”
- 3. Significance: an acknowledgement of life’s inherent value.
This is the sense that your life matters. If you have high levels of significance, you’re confident that the world would be a tiny bit—or perhaps a lot—poorer if you didn’t exist.