There are times when you wonder about life. What does leading a meaningful life require of you? Who defines what is meaningful? What is meaningful to one person, might be meaningless to another.

What does leading a meaningful life consist of?

I’ve often heard people say at the death of someone else, ‘What a waste of a life!’ I’ve said it myself a couple of times until I stopped and asked myself, how could I say that? How do I know that the person didn’t add meaning and purpose to another life. Perhaps I don’t know if even through her bad choices, her life and the fact that she was loved, added meaning to the lives of people who loved her. There is no way for me to really know if his life, confusing though it seems to me, made a difference to another life. Even if her living, made just one person’s life better, wasn’t it a meaningful life she lived? Didn’t the fact that his life challenged another person to forgive, to reach out more, to be more loving, make it a meaningful life?

We put too much emphasis on doing as a way of being meaningful. We have bucket lists and goal-setting. We are challenged to do more and achieve more. To fulfill our potential. Not that any of this is wrong. No. But if we emphasize achievements, are we saying that children and adults living with cognitive disabilities are not living meaningful lives? I’m sure any parent of a child with special needs will tell you, that despite how difficult it is, this child adds so much meaning to their lives.

The time has come for me (and you, perhaps) to challenge ourselves – to look within our lives and find the meaning in them and then to realize that it is by our ‘being’ that we make more of a difference than by our ‘doing’.

Most of us lead far more meaningful lives than we know. Often finding meaning is not about doing things differently; it is about seeing familiar things in new ways. When we find new eyes, the unsuspected blessing in work we have done for many years may take us completely by surprise. We can see life in many ways: with the eye, with the mind, with the intuition. But perhaps it is only those who speak the language of meaning, who have remembered how to see with the heart, that life is ever deeply known or served.
Rachel Naomi Remen


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Images of flowers in graveyard via Shutterstock