Who has lived a life worth pursuing
The meaning of life: this is how you can find out for yourself
When you see the meaning in your life, it makes you happy.
The feeling of futility, on the other hand, can be quite stressful.
But how do you find the meaning of life?
One possibility is to ask yourself: "What is really important to me in this world?".
And when you then put yourself in the service of this cause that is important to you, then you will feel your life as worthwhile and meaningful.
You will then know what you need to be happy and you can follow this path steadily.
You can then also see yourself as an important part of the universe that creates values and creates meaning in other people's lives. You can contribute something to your world.
Have you ever thought about what you want to stand for in the world?
What is your life supposed to be?
What do you want to live
What could your meaning in life be?
Admittedly, these are really awesome questions. And I believe that very few people now have an answer ready spontaneously.
What is behind these questions are your values.
And that's exactly what this post is about: about values and what it means for your life to know and live them.
What are values?
In his book “The 7 Ways to Effectiveness” Stephen R. Covey gives the question of values what I think is a very appropriate description: “Having the end in mind from the very beginning”.
In this part of the book he also describes a small visualization exercise that involves imagining (abbreviated) the following:
You see your friends, family, acquaintances and relatives going to the funeral of a loved one. And you go there too. And when you step forward and look into the coffin, you are shocked. Because it is you who are buried here. You sit down and look at the funeral program. And see that four people will say something about you. One of them is someone from your family and the second speaker is a friend of yours. One is professionally connected to you and the last speaker comes from an association in which you are involved.
What would you like to hear about yourself and your life from each and every one of these speakers? How exactly would you like to be described by these people? What traits should they remember?
What do values mean for the meaning of life?
What your answers are brings you into direct contact with your values. And a little closer to your meaning in life.
Because your values are what you feel to be fundamentally important for your life and what you want to live. Values are our deepest inner conviction of what is extremely important and right for our life and our world.
It is what you have to have embodied so that at the end of your life you can say for yourself that you have led a fulfilled and satisfied life.
Because you give your life meaning with your values.
They are not goals that can be pursued and achieved at some point. They are more the direction you are following - and which will never be completed. It's your big goal in life that might end with your death. But that may also be lived on by your children.
Here are a few typical values to make the definition a little clearer:
- environmental Protection
Download list of values
Here you can find a list with many different values. It is from our decision-making workshop, where the topic of “values” also plays an important role. If you want, you can use them as a suggestion.
Download the list of values here
Your values are what you need constantly and always to be satisfied.
A value is what is fundamentally important to you in your life. What you would fight for if you didn't have it anymore. What you absolutely need to be satisfied. That which brings you closer to the meaning of life.
And not just today and tomorrow. That would be more of a need that can be satisfied and that has then disappeared from your life again. At least until this need is not met the next time.
You live your true values even when you are unobserved
Sometimes there are also things that you think are good but that you don't really live by. Or that you only live when others are watching. Because you think you should live it. You can do that too, surely that's a good thing. But it's not your real worth. This is then a sham value that you may have adopted because others expect it from you. Or because it's politically correct. These bogus values do not help you to find the meaning of life.
When someone violates your values, it really hurts.
And we can't just live with it when someone violates our values. When someone violates your values, it hurts you. It then goes to the core of yourself and you cannot just overlook it.
When you are not in tune with your values, you are deeply dissatisfied.
If we repeatedly have to put back what we want out of deepest conviction, then we feel at the mercy of life. This not only creates dissatisfaction and unhappiness, but can also make you mentally ill.
What are values good for?
If you know exactly what is important to you in life, then you also know a direction in life. You could say that your values are like lighthouses that show you where to go.
You make better decisions
So your values also help you make fundamental decisions. Because if you make a decision that is in line with your values, then that decision cannot really be wrong. After all, you then took into account what is ultimately the most important thing in life for you.
Your values are a yardstick by which you can orient your life. And you don't need to justify this standard, it is simply fixed. It can be very healing to make a decision with the certainty of being invulnerable. Especially when you tend not to be able to decide and are afraid of making mistakes.
For example, if "security" is important to you, then you will probably not give up your secure job to travel through Australia with your girlfriend for six months.
And if “family” comes first, you will always take your family into account when choosing a job. And then, for example, do not volunteer if someone is wanted in your company to set up the new branch in Russia for two years.
If you make value-oriented decisions, then you do not make decisions based on a mood, but rather you make long-term decisions. You will then not cheat on your partner on a whim or on a stimulus, but you know that the values of "loyalty" and "partnership" are more important to you.
You are happier
Values are also a very big part of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Acceptance and commitment therapy is a form of therapy derived from classic behavioral therapy. It assumes that people's suffering is often related to their feelings and thought patterns and shows a way to come to a happier and more contented life.
This path reads, among other things: Lead a value-oriented life. Find out what you want your life to be, give it meaning. And then follow that direction that you want to give your life - no matter what setbacks you experience. Because if we devote ourselves to this fixed goal with all our might, we can adapt our behavior to it and give our life a self-determined direction.
Those who know their values can actively control their lives and do not feel powerless and at the mercy. These are people who have found the meaning of life for themselves personally.
And it has also been scientifically proven by the psychology professor Todd Kashdan that it makes you more satisfied if you live value and meaning oriented instead of based on the "pleasure principle".
I think that's reason enough to be clear about your own values.
What are your values
I think I have already shown you many good reasons today why it is good to know your values.
So, maybe you feel like thinking about your personal values today.
To get on the track of your values, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- What is existentially important to me in my life?
- What should be a guiding principle in my life?
- What do I get upset about often? (Which value is disregarded here?)
- What do I not want to live without?
- What would I really miss if I didn't have it anymore? (And what is the value behind it?)
- What did I fight for or what am I fighting for? (And what value did I defend?)
- What am I burning for?
- What does the world need more of?
- If I could change 3 things in this country with the snap of a finger, which things would they be? (And what are the values behind these wishes?)
- What should other people do more often? (And what is the value behind it?)
A life according to your values creates meaning
Because values and a value-oriented life are so incredibly useful, meaningful and worth (!) Full, we will be writing about this topic more often in the coming weeks and months.
The best thing to do is to just write down your answers to the above questions. Because then you can start right there with our next post. Then we will ask ourselves to what extent we already live and act according to our values, or what the next steps are to live (more) value-oriented.
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