Vladimir Lenin once said, “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” Often when we look back at weeks or months, we could say nothing happened, but then we remember days from years ago that were meaningful enough to remember.
Meaningful life experiences are events that change our perspective on the purpose and meaning of our lives. We don’t always recognize their weight as they are happening, but they are still impactful. Getting married, having a kid or losing someone important are all examples.
If you feel like life is moving slowly or essential things aren’t happening, it might be time to seek meaningful life experiences. If you are wondering what that means, keep reading as we will discuss it in more detail.
What is a meaningful life experience?
We all have busy lives when it comes to work, school, friends, and family obligations, but we might not remember anything in particular at the end of the week. I know that most weeks fly by for me, and I can’t distinguish one day from the next by the time Friday comes. But even when it comes to weeks, time flies, and it is hard to remember anything.
But if I take a moment to think about what was significant, things pop up right away. For my family, the most prominent event in the recent past was buying and moving into a new house; that event stands out a lot. At the same time, moving is a pretty meaningful experience because it represents growing up and being out on our own.
Other significant events that stand out in my history are the birth of my daughter; with her first cry, I cried too, and my life forever changed.
The birth of your first child is probably one of the most remarkable life experiences, at least from my perspective.
On the other hand, quite a few people in my extended family have died, but the only one that I remember the details of is my grandma, and that was more than ten years ago.
While it is obvious why my daughter’s birth is significant, it isn’t so clear to me why my grandmother’s death was. But I remember knowing it was going to happen and asking my mom to wait a minute while I went inside and said goodbye one last time. Back in the car, I cried and was flooded with emotions; a week or two later, when she died, I was at peace with it.
Meaningful life experiences are the sorts of events that we remember long after they happen, and they tend to fit into our life stories. Often, when we think about who we are and how we got where we are, we have a list of important stories that matter to us and stick in our minds. These stories, in a sense, define who we are and how we look at the world.
When asking what a meaningful life experience is, it comes down to what we remember from the past. The truth is, most of our days are uneventful, and there isn’t much to remember. But then, big things happen; they capture our attention and stick with us for a long time.
Why do meaningful life experiences matter?
Why precisely a meaningful life experience will matter to one person or another is subjective to the individual. But often, we remember them because they are a significant part of our life story. In addition, they are plot points that we can’t ignore, and they played a role in making us who we are today.
For myself, having a child change everything about my life; no longer did I only have to worry about myself, now I had a family. When we bought a house, that was another change of responsibility. Now we have a mortgage, so we need to keep our jobs. But we also have a place that we can call our own and change however we like. On top of that, the house provides stability for my daughter and gives her a place to call home.
If you think back to your meaningful life experiences, you will have your reason for believing they were significant events.
But those reasons will be important to you regardless of if they were shared with others or not. But with other events, like getting married or having a child, those events are shared, so they also have a shared significance to the other people involved.
But what is most revealing is that these events stand out to us, which means they’ve lodged themselves inside our brains because they changed something about our character. Significant events change our sense of responsibility; they might lead to changes in what we do with our time or who we spend it with. These events might also signify changes in what we must or will do for the rest of our lives.
Good or bad, significant events play a role in defining who we are, and for that reason, they stick in our heads, and we think about them more than other things.
Those memories might not mean much to other people, but they mean a lot to us, even if we aren’t sure why that is the case. Regardless, they are essential because they become a part of who we are.
The power of meaningful life experiences
The power of meaningful life experiences is that they change who we are and force us to redefine what matters to us and our lives. My wife and I were committed to each other before our daughter was born. However, her coming into the world marked a significant change in our relationship and life together.
If you’ve read any other articles on this site, you might have come across my experiences in Korea. While going to Korea was a whim opportunity to find a decent job, it completely changed my life and trajectory. Before I left, I had no motivation and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But by the time I left Korea, I had a clear goal and a plan about how to make it happen.
When I think back, my time in Korea was a year of meaningful life experiences, but specific events stand out and have the most impact. And while some of those stories might be interesting to other people, they are most interesting to me because they are a part of how I’ve become who I am today.
The power of important events is that they change the fabric of who we are.
We might be ok to sit back and do nothing with our time, but once we have a kid, that is no longer possible. We might rely on a family member for support, but we have to fill that void some other way when they die.
When it comes to choosing someone to marry, we have control over that, but there are lots of significant life experiences that we can’t do anything about; they happen. But what defines us, or what matters most, is how we deal with those situations.
Do we let them destroy us, or do we take control of our emotions and allow ourselves to grow and become stronger as a result.
We can’t predict the future, and we can’t change the past, but regardless of how we feel, things will happen, and they will affect us. We can choose to ignore these meaningful life experiences or embrace them and think about how they have affected the person we are today.
Embrace your experience and grow with it
Previously, I spoke about my experiences with Jordan Peterson’s self-authoring program. It is relevant here because it asks us to look back at the significant events in our lives and write them down. Once we have that list, we are asked to look objectively at the events and see how they have affected who we are and how we feel about them.
For myself, the program was beneficial because there were a lot of adverse events in my past that made me feel bad about myself. But after going through the program, I changed my mind and felt better. The point being, when meaningful life experiences happen, we don’t always make sure we are thinking about them in the best possible way. This matters because it changes the way we feel about those events.
You don’t have to buy the program to get the benefits as I’m sure you could find some websites that talk about the process. At the same time, I don’t have an affiliate link to share, but I can say that it made my life better as it enabled me to think about some of my previous life experiences in a different, more positive light.
Ultimately, my point is that we can have both positive and negative life experiences, but it is truly up to us to deal with them and make sense of them.
However, we can’t forget just how significant these sorts of events are. Even if we don’t think about their power, they still change how we feel about ourselves, our lives and who we are as a person.
Take the significant events in your life seriously because they play an essential role in defining who you are, and you have the power to think about them differently if you choose to do so.