Positive Living Newsletter

The Search for Meaning in A Material World: A Rebirth of The Soul

Támara Hill, MS, NCC, CCTP, LPC

What comes to mind when you think of the process of building meaning into your life?

Do you anticipate that it would be difficult or easy?

When I see clients who are going through life transitions (i.e., getting married, losing a loved one, graduating college or graduate school, building one’s career, having children, etc.) the question I ask is: “how do you feel knowing that your life is dependent on the meaning you do or do not create in this experience?” I remember this client reporting she didn’t believe she had the control to change herself her life. She suffered depression and anxiety for many years feeling like she had no control over her existence in the world. I engaged this client, over the course of 4-5 weeks, in learning about the cognitive model – which includes altering one’s initial perception of life and reconstructing thoughts and behaviors that may be detrimental to your self-esteem and feelings of self-efficacy. Although the 4-5 weeks of challenging inaccurate thoughts and perceptions was very difficult, she eventually realized she is the only one who can choose to do the things that will matter the most to her life’s existence and the existence of others.

The material world often focuses on the things which are carnal (i.e., money, fashion, cars, homes, etc.) and not the things that help you determine the course of your life, the choices you are free to make, and the purpose and meaning you can create in your life or in the lives of others. I am of the firm belief that we are the passengers of life and God is the driver. We are given the tools to create meaning and impact the lives of others in powerful ways once we learn who we truly are.

Here are a few ways that I have learned to build meaning into my life:

  1. Introspection: Take some time alone to engage in reflection of your day, the month, the year, etc. through meditation, journaling, or therapy. Introspection builds self-awareness and can strengthen a healthy perception of yourself.
  2. Acceptance of my humanity and limitations: We are only human and there isn’t a lot we can do to change the course of life. Things happen that are beyond our control, and we have to learn to accept that along with the good life brings.
  3. Awareness of free will: Free will doesn’t mean that we go out and do what we want. I’m of the firm belief that free will allows us to choose who we want to be, where we want to ultimately go in our lives, and how to get there. We are free to choose a meaningful life.
  4. Building spiritual knowledge: Engaging in the spiritual exploration of who you are in the world and why you are here can truly help you identify what you need in your daily life and how you can live in a way that is intentional.
  5. Re-adjusting what I thought was the truth: Humans can be followers and we often believe that what everyone else is doing is “normal” or “acceptable” and that isn’t always true. The road less traveled may actually be the right way.

Building meaning into your life doesn’t have to be a difficult process. It also doesn’t have to “wait” until you are able to understand life. Building meaning in this material world starts with a choice, a choice to grow beyond what you may have originally thought life to be.