What does it mean to live a meaningful life? Does it mean success in respect to financial gain? Success in a career? A happy family?
Perhaps the definition is different for everyone. We are all driven by different desires and needs. Some feel the need to have a prominent career and work long hours. This may give a sense of fulfillment to that individual, and if it does, that is great. None of us are made the same.
Growing up, we are conditioned from an early age to think about what we want to be when we grow up. How you will make your living is supposed to be the biggest part of being an adult, and we tend to get lost in this concept. We are defined by our jobs. By our titles. When we meet new people, that is inevitably one question that comes up early in the conversation…so, what do you do…and of course we rattle off what we do to make ends meet.
But we are so much more than that. We are not just our jobs. What is it that you will reflect back on and see that your life had meaning? Will you look back and say wow, I made a lot of money and be happy with that? Or will you say wow, I made a lot of money, but I never had time with my loved ones or to do the things I had always wanted to do?
Millenials coming into the workforce have the idea that their time off is equally as important as the time they spend at work. They appear to value their personal time more than GenXers do. At least here in North America…Europeans have had a different philosophy for many years, one to be admired I believe.
A meaningful life to me means that I have left this world better than I found it. That I have touched the lives and hearts of others in even a small way. I find that I can do that in my career, but I also spend my personal time to do more of that. I enjoy my family time and give myself to my children with all my heart. I enjoy my time with my friends, and do what I can to make their happiness a priority too; because when they are happy, so am I. I volunteer. I have my own groups that I belong to that bring me joy as well.
I don’t want to feel that I have spent all my time at work without putting in at least equal the effort to make the rest of my life matter as well. How do you make your life meaningful? Is there something special that you do? Please comment if you would like to share.
Vacations are wonderful. You plan and prepare for the trip, decide which sights you want to see and when. You plan every day to be a full as possible so you can fit everything in to your limited time, because if you don’t, you won’t have a chance to do all the things you wanted to do.
But during that vacation away, did you think to take a day to just relax? Maybe sleep in a little, or spend a lazy day exploring the forests or the beaches?
These vacation days create a lot of memories too. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe they create more memories than running from the art gallery to the science centre then to the zoo…you get the idea.
We did all of the planning. I had every day scheduled with where to go and what to see. In the end, what my children wanted to do won out. We peeled away one activity for another. We didn’t do all the things we had planned. We spent way more time sitting on the beach watching sunsets and looking for crabs instead of going to the sights that we had on the schedule. We took a morning and strolled through a forest and created a fairy home at the base of a giant redwood tree.
We created memories.
Yes, we did a lot of the scheduled stuff and hit the highlights. But in retrospect, the highlights really were about exploring nature that was new to them. About seeing the glimmer in their eyes as they discovered something they had never seen before. It was about their pure excitement and joy the first time they dipped their toes in the salty ocean water.
These are the things that will create the memories that they will remember for a lifetime.
I value quality time with those I love. Spending time together is worth more than any store bought gift, in my opinion.
This weekend was one of those weekends where we didn’t have anything pressing to do. Being a long weekend on top of it, we decided rather last minute to take a trip to the zoo. Since it is a three hour drive each way, we made sure to get up nice and early. We packed up the cameras, water bottles and music for the drive and away we went. We always stop for coffee and breakfast before leaving town. It’s just what we do. The kids eat while I drive, and I have my caffeine fix. Sometimes they fall asleep on the drive, sometimes we all sing along to whatever song is playing. Sometimes they read. It’s always enjoyable no matter what.
I’ve come to crave these little day trips. The adventure of getting away, of taking a trip unplanned. Just drop everything and go. Sometimes these are solo trips if the kids are not home that week, but I love the ones where they come along the most. It’s good quality time well spent. On top of that, my eldest had a chance to continue developing his photography skills in a different setting. He’s getting very good at it, and I am very proud of him. But there’s something to be said for getting away from home for just a little while. A change of scenery. A little excitement. Spending time outdoors, and believe me, we were out there walking around and enjoying the sun and the setting for a good five hours at least. These are the little things that they will remember as they grow into adults. These are the things I will remember as they grow up and move on to live their own lives. I will know that they will have those happy memories to draw upon. They will have that influence for how they might like to live their lives, and should they have children, to do what they enjoyed as kids for their own.
Quality time. I read somewhere that you have 18 summers with your children before they are grown. This is what I’m doing with my 18.