Can’t find meaning in your life? Often when we search too hard for something we can’t find it; the act of searching makes finding that thing more difficult. As someone who has struggled with meaning and a sense of satisfaction from work, this is a topic I’ve thought a lot about.
In the most basic sense, life’s only meaning can be found in survival and reproduction; as biological beings, that is why we are here. Beyond this, we might seek meaning within our minds, but that often comes down to choosing what we deem necessary and worthy of our time and consideration.
If you have trouble finding meaning in your life, you might be looking in the wrong place or getting distracted by the wrong questions.
Keep reading as we will talk about why you have not found what you are looking for and how you might have better success in the search for meaning in your life.
Why Can’t I Find Meaning in Life?
If you are going to do something big, like climb a mountain, you need to do lots of preparation. But at the same time, there is the idea that tasks fill the time that we give them. Often the more effort we put towards something, the more difficult it becomes. This means the more time you dedicate to asking the question like what does it mean to live a meaningful life or how can I find purpose in my life, the more time it is going to take.
At the same time, if you can’t find meaning in your life, you might be thinking of it too hard or setting expectations that can’t be fulfilled.
When we expect too much from the meaning of life, we will be disappointed.
In another article, I talked about why are people are disappointing and suggested that it often comes down to the expectation we have of others. If we hope too much from anything, that thing will never live up to our expectations.
What does this mean in the context of finding meaning in life? When we think that meaning will give us all that we need, there is no way for us to ever find that. Perfection in anything is a pipedream, instead, we often have the settle with the least bad option.
I see meaning and purpose in life as something to work towards that keeps us motivated in the here and now.
It’s not something that exists outside our preferences or decisions. Instead, it is what we consider important or worthy of our time and consideration.
In the past, I talked about what we should do with our lives, and part of the reason why we can’t always find meaning seems to be that we haven’t been taught how to find it. At the same time, because we have specific ideas about what is possible, we are often limiting because no two people want the same things out of life or have the same circumstances.
This brings us to another difficulty in finding meaning in our lives; if we don’t know ourselves, it will always be challenging to figure out what we should do at any given time. So it is critical to seek out self-knowledge and get a sense of what we value and see as priorities in our lives.
Knowing what you want or what you should chase after is always better than going at it blindly or without a plan.
Another reason why I’ve found at times when my life felt meaningless was that I was tried or simply having a bad day. While I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about finding meaning in my life, the times it bothers me most are the days when other things were going on.
Not getting enough sleep one night might have you feeling lazy the next day, but it could also have you feeling down and more doubtful about what you wouldn’t have been worried about in the past.
What Should I do When I Can’t Find Meaning in Life?
When it feels like we can’t find meaning in our lives, my first suggestion is to think of something else. This might be lazy advice, but we often make issues more significant than they ought to be when we exclusively think about one thing.
The meaning of life is to live, so if you are living, you are living a meaningful life.
Next, make sure you are healthy and are taking good care of yourself. Earlier this year, I realized that I felt like shit and got tired after doing nothing at all, so I committed myself to getting better. The first thing I did was ride my stationary bike for 30 minutes a day. After doing it for a week, I stuck with it and have been doing it almost every day since, which has been over seven months.
While you might not like riding a bike, you can commit to doing some exercise, and it will make you feel better. An added benefit of having this exercise routine that I’ve kept up with is that it has added stability to my life. So while riding the bike doesn’t have anything to do with writing, having the positive reinforcement of doing something every day keeps me going at both.
So rather than worrying about not finding meaning in your life, add some routines that will make you feel better.
Doing something consistently helps you get in shape, but it also helps you feel better about what you already do every day. Once you have something to feel good about, you might not be so tempted to worry about the meaning of life because you will be living it every day.
Another thing that has caused me to feel bad about my meaning was a lack of focus or commitment to doing what was important to me. I’ve always valued personal responsibility but, at times, have struggled to implement it.
Knowing that only you are responsible for what you get out of life might light a fire in your heart and help you keep working at the things that matter.
While we might not be able to do what we love as our day jobs, at least when we have free time, we can work towards what is important to us. If you waste your free time on short-term pleasures like video games or YouTube, you might feel regret at the end of the week.
If you can’t find meaning in your life, try working towards something you know you care about and are committed to.
How Do I find Meaning in Life?
If you are having trouble finding meaning in your life, there are some things you can do to help improve your situation. But what matters most is your commitment to finding purpose and meaning; if you aren’t on board with that, you won’t get anywhere.
Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you find more meaning in your life.
- What are you good at? Everyone is good at something, so it is always important to find out what it is for you and work towards it as much as you can.
- What do you believe in? I used to get into many philosophical debates with my friends; for me, it turned out that I believed in truth regardless of how elusive it can be.
- What do people ask you about? If people are always asking you questions about a particular topic, you probably know a lot about it and might be qualified to get better through additional learning.
- What does the world need? Not all of our skills are in demand, but some of them are. Try to work out what you are good at and what the world needs more of; there might be opportunities there.
- What does your heart pull you towards? Sometimes we have feelings that go against all logic. When I was with my ex, on the surface everything seemed great, but something didn’t feel right; I had to trust my gut even though it didn’t ‘make sense.’
- How do you want to change the world? You might have some plan or idea about what you want to do to make the world a better place. If you are drawn to an idea, work at it cause you might be getting a hint from your subconscious mind.
If you are looking for more questions to ask yourself, check out my article about finding purpose and direction in your life. That article has additional questions that you can ask yourself.
Still Can’t Find meaning?
If you still can’t find meaning in your life, then you might want to stop asking the question altogether. There is no point in worrying about something that you can’t do anything about and might not even change much about your life anyways.
Every day you are doing things that keep you occupied and interested, so you should keep at them. For myself, I’ve wondered about these questions at various times in my life and never found a satisfactory answer. And when I did, it often came and went with the seasons.
It is easy to get excited about something while it’s fresh in your mind, but it might lose its lustre after a while.
Often what is most important to help you find meaning in your life is to set a goal or target and work towards it. Meaning doesn’t have to be something magical; it can just be a commitment to achieving something. In the last few months, I’ve been committed to writing, so I do it every day, and that alone gives me a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment.
Is the work that I am doing objectively meaningful to the world? I do not know, but does it make me feel good? Yes, and maybe that is what meaning is all about. So instead of worrying about if what you are doing is significant or meaningful, focus on what you enjoy and stick with it. If you want it to be bigger, then make a goal out of it.
Also, remember, you can always change your purpose if you want to. So for now, stick with what matters to you and update your plans if you need to.