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How to Live a Meaningful Life

In Man’s Search for Meaning, one of the most influential books of all time, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl recounts his grisly experiences in an Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. In the book, Frankl contends that those who were most likely to survive had one thing in common: they had found meaning in life. Echoing German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s words, “he who has a why to live can bear almost any how,” Frankl found that even in the darkest of times, those who could cling to their life’s meaning and purpose were more resilient because they had something to live for.

For many people, living a happy life is the ultimate goal. But, researchers are finding that the pursuit of happiness falls short and real contentment and well-being comes from living a life of meaning. So, how do you pursue meaning? According to Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology, you use “your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.” By completing the VIA Survey, you have your signature strengths, now, as the new year approaches, explore your life’s purpose with this one simple question.

What Matters Most?

Excerpted from Dr. Ryan Niemiec’s newest book, Character Strengths Interventions, this exercise helps you look to the future to assist you in the present and boosts awareness for your key source of finding personal meaning. Examine the question, “what matters most?” with these 4 steps:

1. Imagine what will matter most. Think of the area in your life that will matter the most to you in 6 months or a year from now (family life, work, social network, community outreach). Even if it is functioning well now, visualize it being even stronger in the future.

2. Phrase your intention. Put your goal for this area into a simple, concise phrase. For example: become a better parent, be more productive at work, find more ways to serve my community.

3. Signature strength pathways. Sign in to your account and review your Character Strengths Profile and list your top 5 signature strengths. Next, write about how each of these strengths can help you achieve the goal you created in Step 2.

4. Action Planning. Now that you have 5 pathways to enhancing what matters most to you, make a plan for how you will bring this to life. Will you bring forth one strength pathway at a time? Combine strengths to reach the goal?

Starting now you can live a more meaningful life! All it takes is some reflection, planning and action to tap into your internal mechanisms, your strengths, and apply them to the causes, people and activities that mean the most to you.


Join Our Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice Course

Weaving together mindfulness practices and character strength applications into an experience you don't want to miss. We offer this popular, online, interactive course once a year and we always sell out! Register now to reserve your spot for the 2018 dates. 

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