What is it about your life that makes it meaningful?
It’s not an easy question to answer. There are numerous factors to consider, including the people that impact our lives on a frequent basis, the roles we play in the lives of others, how we conduct ourselves on a day-to-day basis, how we treat wait staff, even our attitude toward those who find themselves without a home.
Whatever the right answer is for you, one thing should be clear…
A meaningful life has nothing to do with your possessions
- Your multi-level home with its panoramic view of Puget Sound or the San Francisco Bay might be inspirational, but the house nor the view isn’t what makes your life meaningful.
- Your shiny new Porsche might be a symbol of a higher income, but the car isn’t what makes your life meaningful.
- Your budding career, full of promise and monetary rewards might be a bright spot on your professional horizon, but your career isn’t what makes your life meaningful.
In fact, all of these may contribute to meaningful experiences that might provide an opportunity for growth, but none are necessary for one to live a meaningful life.
So, what is required to live a meaningful life?
If our possessions don’t create meaning for us, what does? I think it comes down to the compassion we feel for others and the kindness we extend to them.
In my book, The Practical Buddhist, I wrote that three active practices contribute to a meaningful life: meditation, mindfulness, and compassionate-kindness. Meditation can be thought of as a formal practice or spending time in solitude. Mindfulness is the systematic practice of self-awareness.
Compassionate-kindness, however, is the key to living a meaningful life.
From The Practical Buddhist…
Compassionate-kindness is a two-fold expression. Compassion is a general attitude one adopts toward all sentient beings, toward nature, even toward one’s surroundings. It is largely dependent on an internal commitment to kindness.
Kindness is the external expression of compassion. It’s a decision to extend one’s highest sense of self as we interact with those around us.
Living a meaningful life has little to do with what we own or strive to own, and everything to do with how we interact with others. For help with implementing a daily practice of compassionate-kindness, start here.