How to Make Your Life More Meaningful This Year - TIME
Save money. Take up yoga. Stop binge-watching Netflix. At the beginning of every year we start by making a list of resolutions. By the time December 31 rolls around, we’ve grown so frustrated with all of our flaws and failures that we’re ready to discard our old self for a new and improved one. Jettisoning the past, we think, is the best way — the only way — to move forward.
But that advice — as we come to find out almost every January — is flawed.
If we truly want to reinvent ourselves, we need to think bigger. Instead of focusing solely on the person we hope to become, we need to cast our gaze backward and think about the person we’ve been. We need to conceive of our past experiences not as something to be overwritten by a new and improved self, but as the raw materials out of which we can create a new self. Only by looking back can we better look ahead and move forward into a more fulfilling life.
I’ve spent the last four years researching what the building blocks of a meaningful life are for my new book The Power of Meaning: Crafting a life that matters. Turning to the new and growing body of social science research on meaning, I found that meaningful lives share three features in common — purpose, significance, and comprehension. In other words, when people say their lives are meaningful, it’s because they have valued goals that drive them, they feel their lives matter, have worth and they understand and have made sense of their life experiences, weaving them into a coherent whole.