Everyday Actions to Make Life More Meaningful

Most of us would like to think that our lives are meaningful, but sometimes daily life feels anything but. This is especially true if you find yourself in a job that doesn’t provide you with any real level of fulfilment, yet takes up most of your time.

Often, when people aren’t finding the level of satisfaction that they want, they veer towards making radical change – thinking they have to quit their job and find a more interesting one, for instance. Yet it’s not necessarily the right course of action to throw everything up in the air and start over. Your nine to five may not be giving you that meaning you crave, but if it’s paying the bills and allowing you to make progress in your career, maybe you should stick with it for a while. Previous generations didn’t have an expectation that their job would necessarily bring them fulfilment; they found that in other areas of life.

Credit: Pixabay

There are plenty of other ways that you can make life feel more interesting and more meaningful– even if (for now, at least) it’s just in your free time.

Get more from travel than a break

When you plan a holiday, if your life is full on and busy all the time, it’s tempting to think that your main priorities are to find somewhere with a great pool or beach and a hotel that will have all the facilities you need to take it easy, relax and unwind. These kinds of vacation are great, there’s no denying it, and can be a great way to recharge your batteries. However, travel can be so much more fulfilling depending on where you choose to go. Intersperse these types of trips with ones that can broaden your mind and your life experiences.

“Duomo” by Emmanuel Milou (CC BY-SA 2.0)

For instance, if you choose to take a city break in one of the most iconic European cities, with just a couple of visits to the main tourist spots, you’ll open up a whole world of history and art appreciation you might never otherwise have encountered. Let’s take Florence, Italy, as an example. You can explore the beautiful buildings such as the Duomo – the cathedral – and discover how it came to be constructed. Not only that, you can also climb to the very top of the dome for stunning views of the city. Similarly, the Secret Passages Tour of the Palazzo Vecchio will give you an insight to history of the Medici family – the ruling family of Florence during the Renaissance period. By paying a little extra for this kind of tour, you’ll also get to explore secret passages and parts of the building that are hidden away from the main tourist routes, making the whole experience that little bit more special.

Mix in the main tourist attractions with quirkier off-beat things like La Specola – Florence University’s natural history museum that’s filled with zoological and botanical curios and a fascinating collection of wax anatomical models, sculpted in the 1700s as a way to teach medical students about the human body. Even if you don’t think you’re all that interested in history, by putting yourself in and amongst such monuments to previous times, you’re bound to be left wanting more and your travel memories will be all the richer for it.

Of course, you don’t need to go to Europe to visit places that are awash with history and art – a weekend in one of the US’s most historic cities can be just as eye-opening and inspiring.

Make the most of your social life with friends old and new

It’s not just what you do with your free time, it’s also who you spend it with. While we may have a lifelong group of friends, you shouldn’t become complacent in thinking they’ll always be there. Cherish your friends and think about how to make them realise how much you appreciate them. Instead of being the passive friend who just responds to other people’s invitations, take the initiative and arrange a special trip to watch a show, or a fun day out doing something wacky like paintballing or playing an escape room game.

Paintballing in Bristol
“Paintballing in Bristol” by  (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Maybe some of your friendships might have become dormant due to the different paths your lives have taken – perhaps it’s time to take steps to re-forge those links. Even if you feel that you’ve left it too long, sometimes all it takes to reconnect is a phone call.

As well as valuing our existing friendships, there’s a lot to be said for being open to expanding your social circle and making new friends. The people we meet bring something new to our lives and while not every new acquaintance will become a friend who becomes a fixture in your life, some of them will. There are many different ways to meet new people, as well as the traditional channels like work, sport and friends of friends, you might choose to use an app like Badoo. It’s a dating app, but it’s also a social discovery app which allows you to find other people in your area who are looking to make new friends or chat. By using the filters at the top of the page, you can narrow your search with factors like age, location and whether you’re looking for a date or simply someone to hang out with.

Unleash your creativity

You may be lucky enough to be in a job where you get to make use of your creative side on a daily basis. Then again, you may be in a job where you feel your creativity is hampered and has no outlet. Either way, your free time is a great way to give vent to whatever creative urges you have. Perhaps you don’t feel that you have this side to your personality, but the truth is that we all do, it’s just a question of discovering what form it’s in.

If you tend to rely on take-out for dinner, buck the trend by looking up a recipe, buying ingredients and cook for yourself – or even better, cook for you and a friend, so someone else can share the experience with you. You may not be a great chef, but through practice, you can develop the skills and you may discover it’s something that you have a passion for.

Sketching the world
“Sketching the world” by Thomas Strosse (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There are plenty of other ways you can be more creative on a daily basis. You might take up an evening class in fine art, but there’s no need to take the formalised learning approach. Invest a few dollars in some pencils and a sketchbook and take them with you when you go out for a walk in the country or to the park. If you’re lucky enough to live by the ocean, you’ll have a constantly changing scene to draw inspiration from. People are often inhibited about simply ‘having a go’ at drawing or painting because they don’t think they’ll be very good. But so what? Who are you trying to impress? You don’t need to share what you do with other people; it’s more about the fun of trying. And you never know, you may discover that you’re more artistic than you thought!

If art for art’s sake seems a bit superfluous, then maybe your creativity needs to serve a more practical purpose. Want a new pair of drapes for your bedroom, but can’t find any in the style that you’d like? Take a look at a few online tutorials and you’ll discover that this is one of the simplest sewing projects around – it’s simply on a bigger scale than you might be used to. If you’re nervous about how successful your attempt will be, then take precautions such as using material from a thrift store that doesn’t cost much, rather than paying out for designer fabric. The satisfaction that you’ll get from hanging a pair of drapes that you’ve made will bring a smile to your face every time you open and close them.

Credit: Pixabay

In a similar vein, why pay a decorator to apply a fresh coat of paint to your home’s interior when you can do it yourself. If you’ve never done this, you may be apprehensive about approaching the task first time around, but you’ll quickly realise how much you can accomplish in just a few hours over the weekend, and how satisfying it does to do these kinds of projects yourself. You’ll also save some cash that you can put towards other things – like one of those interesting weekends away, for instance!

We can all go out and buy what we need, but putting something of ourselves into our homes and our lives adds a certain quality that just can’t be bought, no matter how much you spend.

As these few ideas illustrate, it’s entirely possible to choose activities or ways of doing things that add greater depth and meaning to your life without being really radical. And by putting more meaning into the day to day, you may find that you actually find greater contentment without needing to take potentially risky steps like leaving your job.