It is hard to rewire your brain after years of being told to focus on your special self, achieve your goals, and find your purpose. To say you want to dedicate yourself passionately and lovingly to helping others with little self-interest could lead you to feeling more let down than fulfilled. What will it take to make this shift? First, let go of your attachment to having a life purpose and a clear vision of your future if you don't have one now.
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It is good to question the value of your path. I believe that is what we are experiencing in the stage of life we call midlife. Do you still feel there should be more to your life? Then be willing to look at your past. What sparks sadness, regret , and even anger when you look back? These events could give you clues about how you want to shape your future. Then work on being aware of what you celebrate, are grateful for, and what makes you smile and laugh in the present. Setting goals to repeat these events could be more significant than setting your sites on an elusive purpose.
Finally, accept your life will be a roller coaster journey as dreams are both achieved and course-corrected. What gives you resilience may be more important than the specific ups and downs. Instead of seeking to have it all, seek to feel as if you have it all already. Your life will unfold with more ease and grace. You are in a bit of a metaphysical quagmire without some foundation. If you answer that question you are a very brave woman and I will salute you! Perhaps we're getting ourselves into a quagmire when we insist that life must have a significance or meaning.
Perhaps life is life, and nothing more. We get one chance to live our lives, and then we die. Rather than insisting on life having a meaning, I make a choice to live the most interesting life I can according to the values that I hold, since this is the one chance I get. Goals, life purpose, and the meaning of life are all very different concepts. The meaning I give my life is different than yours. And I set my goals hoping to make a significant difference for myself and others. I may question the significance or meaning of what I do, but I strive to have a direction to follow so I feel as if I am living my life on purpose even if an overall purpose isn't clear.
These are typical conversations I have with the smart, strong goal-driven women I work with and write for. You will need to ask someone else what is the meaning of life for all. This is where epistemology is worth pursuing. It leads us into asking first order questions like what is the meaning of life. Would not our goals, and our purpose be all the better if they are anchored to the meaning of life?
Your approach is a pragmatic one I think, it is quantifiable in it's results and therefore repeatable for others. You are able to enhance the achievements of "smart, strong goal-driven women you work and write for. However, as your article title suggests, goals and meaning are worth striving for.
Is not meaning of life worth striving for as well? As Socrates is reported to have said, "the unexamined life is not worth living. I used to believe that the unexamined life is not worth living. However, now that I am in my 50's I have to say that some of the happiest people I know don'e worry about purpose or pursue self-examination My husband is a very happy guy. He always tells me "You think too much". After years of trying to figure out why he is so contented, I think he is right. As you said before, if I or anyone knew the meaning of life it would be incredible.
I continually write about the pursuit of meaning and hopefully knowing the significance of our own lives. I agree that the the "examined life" is critical.
And I believe we can still define our direction even if our purpose and the meaning of life is not clear. I used to think I had a purpose in life I know some people may think I am important, one of my brothers perhaps, my virtual boyfriend, but honestly, who would really miss me if I wasn't here? Don't get me wrong, I am not looking for sympathy, not looking for friendship, don't need a pat on the back I love to make people laugh, I laugh at myself constantly, I pray for those who are in need of it and others just to help them, but for myself, I really do not think I am deserving or in need of it I need an explanation mark at the end of it all.
A finalization. Viewing myself as a blob just rolling around in no particular direction and receiving no enjoyment of what I roll over. Funny how that works. Just ignore this post. Sorry to waste your time. And you are not alone. Many people walk this earth in sadness, waiting and hoping for their time to come, but it never seems to come soon enough I have stressed for months Now that I'm older, I must admit, I still don't know the answer to that. And I regret staying in that bubble for so long, trying to pinpoint exactly what I want from my life, because life has chosen different paths for me I would have never dreamed of.
In my darkest time I think very similar questions. I think the best answer to these questions is no answer at all. There's a kind of beauty in not having goals set or a future planned out. There are some people that can set goals and stick with them--and all the more power to them! But for me, doing what makes me happy in the moment of the day makes me feel better than hours of surfing the net looking for answers that's still my guilty pleasure tho!
Regardless of my theory, to me you are a brave person for wanting to help others and make people laugh even though you have been divorced after 25 years and are partially disabled. Hope all is well! If I am content, then what does it matter, leaning towards nihilism, what is the point? Who cares. They all have more important lives to live and things to care about. Helping others. I did all of that for many years and just got more pain sacrificing myself for others. I am worn out and broken approaching 40 in a few months.
I am unable to do many of the physical things I used to enjoy. My mate does not need me. They are smart and self sufficient. They do not ask me to kill spiders or open jars. I do not get asked to console and help with solutions. I am not needed by anyone. I am not called on by anyone for anything. I do not have friends. I can do things that are fun and temporary but why. Most of them involve spending, gas or some other type of consumerism waste. I used to help people at a hardware store.
While I am sure they are grateful, the thank you's just became unfulfilling and inadequate. Everyone wants a good deal or a bargain to brag about getting something for nothing. Why create and assemble more stuff that no one really needs. What am I improving?! I will die and then there is just stuff to look at by other people after I am gone? The subject above was what I typed into google, and came across this article. So am assuming the comments peppered across the years are from people who googled similar. I see the article is from , and a couple of comments from and In a way it is like a time capsule, a bottle in which we send our message of broken hopes and dreams I am now in my 50's , one failed marriage, no children, I do have a 'career', but I come home to my ailing dog, and that's all the company I have I don't believe in life after death, I have no 'higher' meaning to clutch onto, I got myself in a place where I have none of the cushions that stop you from thinking of your own transiency and ultimate 'inconsequentialness', if that's a word I had a major shift, the carpet being pulled underneath my feet, with my mother's recent passing.
I realised there is no one who will care anymore whether I arrived home safely, whether I will be OK. This is a different barren desolate landscape that I have to inhabit. And I can see the future , and it is all downhill, at best a few productive decades at work, a few trips abroad, at best an old age with no illness and a kind death. At best.
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At worst, it can be anything, a disabling crippling illness and ending in a nursing home. I look at the world now ,and the busy busy shiny sparkly world of youth and aspiration and goals and I feel like I am on a different planet, not part of it anymore. I 'll try and find a way to live a life with no meaning, because I have come to terms that I did not achieve what I wanted, that I will never be a mother, I will never watch my kids grow up, and even if I did have that blessed life, it would still end, without me being able to preserve any nice memories and flick through the family photo album.
This is one weird existence, and sometimes I envy my golden retriever companion and his simple way of enjoying life. I try and emulate it Ok, throwing this message in a bottle I'm guessing the next comment coming in I here you Mira. I don't have children, have regrets about some of my life choices, and sad about some of my dreams not coming true. I may die alone too, and at my age, that may come sooner than I hope.
And I still find things in my life to appreciate. Do you have other friends to be with when you feel down? Social connection is so important the older we get. You are right about your golden retriever And finding ways to make other people happy, like your retriever, shifts our focus to the good we can do for others and off of what isn't working for ourselves. I don't want to belittle your situation, but your psychological and physical health is affected by your outlook.
I find that putting my feet in the grass and enjoying the beautiful trees shading me can reset my mood for hours. AND, I co-exist with knowing that my life will end without much fanfare. I am part of the weird cycle of life but still keep going. I hope this helps even a little.
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Thank you so much Marcia, for your prompt and kind reply. Support you through tough times. Support you as you age. As you age, retirement, illness, and the death of loved ones can often leave you isolated. Knowing there are people you can turn to for company and support can provide purpose as you age and serve as a buffer against depression, disability, hardship and loss.
Boost your self-worth.
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Being there for your friends makes you feel needed and adds purpose to your life. Technology has shifted the definition of friendship in recent years. With the click of a button, we can add a friend or make a new connection. But having hundreds of online friends is not the same as having a close friend you can spend time with in person.
So make it a priority to stay in touch in the real world, not just online. A friend is someone you trust and with whom you share a deep level of understanding and communication. A good friend will:. As friendship works both ways, a friend is also someone you feel comfortable supporting and accepting, and someone with whom you share a bond of trust and loyalty.
The most important quality in a friendship is the way the relationship makes you feel—not how it looks on paper, how alike you seem on the surface, or what others think. Ask yourself:. The bottom line: if the friendship feels good, it is good. A good friend does not require you to compromise your values, always agree with them, or disregard your own needs. If you are introverted or shy , it can feel uncomfortable to put yourself out there socially.
Focus on others, not yourself. The key to connecting to other people is by showing interest in them. Pay attention. Switch off your smart phone, avoid other distractions, and make an effort to truly listen to the other person. We all have acquaintances—people we exchange small talk with as we go about our day or trade jokes or insights with online. Friendship is characterized by intimacy. Start small by sharing something a little bit more personal than you would normally and see how the other person responds. Do they seem interested? Do they reciprocate by disclosing something about themselves?
We tend to make friends with people we cross paths with regularly: people we go to school with, work with, or live close to. The more we see someone, the more likely a friendship is to develop. So look at the places you frequent as you start your search for potential friends. Another big factor in friendship is common interests. We tend to be drawn to people who are similar, with a shared hobby, cultural background, career path, or kids the same age.
Think about activities you enjoy or the causes you care about. Where can you meet people who share the same interests? When looking to meet new people, try to open yourself up to new experiences. Not everything you try will lead to success but you can always learn from the experience and hopefully have some fun. Volunteering can be a great way to help others while also meeting new people. Volunteering also gives you the opportunity to regularly practice and develop your social skills. Take a class or join a club to meet people with common interests, such as a book group, dinner club, or sports team.
Websites such as Meetup. Walk a dog. Dog owners often stop and chat while their dogs sniff or play with each other. Attend art gallery openings, book readings, lectures, music recitals, or other community events where you can meet people with similar interests.
follow link Check with your library or local paper for events near you. Behave like someone new to the area. Cheer on your team. Going to a bar alone can seem intimidating, but if you support a sports team, find out where other fans go to watch the games. You automatically have a shared interest—your team—which makes it natural to start up a conversation.
Making eye contact and exchanging small talk with strangers is great practice for making connections—and you never know where it may lead! Invite a neighbor or work colleague out for a drink or to a movie. Lots of other people feel just as uncomfortable about reaching out and making new friends as you do. Be the one to break the ice. Your neighbor or colleague will thank you later. Connect with your alumni association.
Many colleges have alumni associations that meet regularly. You already have the college experience in common; bringing up old times makes for an easy conversation starter. Some associations also sponsor community service events or workshops where you can meet more people.
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Track down old friends via social media sites. Carpool to work.