Life Design

What makes life meaningful? 3 sources of meaning according to science and stories

What gives you sense that life is meaningful?

Seriously, take a moment to think about it – what are for you the main sources of meaning in life? The crucial ingredients?

The question of meaning in life is one of the most elusive questions in positive psychology.

In comparison to it, even complex topics like wellbeing, resilience or flow seems simple and easy.🙈

It is also a topic that I explored deep and broad – reading pretty much all of the research out there, together with some epic books such as Man’s Search for Meaning (a great and highly recommended book – although I would say it’s a book that is even more about mindset and resilience than meaning).

It was also a central topic of many of my conversations – from meaningful talks with friends over a cup of hot chocolate, to facilitated positive psychology meetups, as well as listening to participants on many Life Design workshops.

And you know what I discovered?

First of all, that the topic indeed is elusive – on one side, there is so much we can share and discover about sense of meaning in life, and on the other side, no one (not even science) has all the answers.

Yet, I also discovered that there are three big threads that keep on showing up when we talk about what makes life meaningful.

Today, I am sharing them with you – three threads that make life meaningful, three big sources of sense of meaning.

Ready? Let’s dive into it.

1 - Creating or building something

It seems that most of us have an urge to create something in our life.

For some, it is their art. For others, might be writing a book. Building something physical – like a house, a building or a beautiful cafe. Planting a tree. Designing a garden.
Even having children sometimes can be driven by this very impulse to create – to create new life and a new human.

Sometimes, we build small things almost daily. Other times, we dedicate our whole life to building that one big, special thing.

Seeing the outcome of our hard work and our impact on the world – especially if we can literally see it or touch it – is a huge driver of experiencing our life as meaningful.

A moment to reflect: What are you seeking to create or build? 

Think both about these days, and about your whole life. What are you set out to do?

Create space for that dreaming and time for those questions, as it is the first step towards more clarity!

And if you feel that you have no idea in which direction to start – join us for Life Design workshop to create that vision.

2 - Learning, improving and becoming better

Improving ourselves is another big driver for our sense of meaning. 

Being it learning something new or getting better at a skill, learning for many of us is a source of motivated, drive, causes us to feel accomplished and excited. 

Honestly, I find this one a bit unusual – because if I follow logic in my thinking, I would think that learning makes life meaningful only if it gives me skills to create or do something with those skills or knowledge.

But, both from my own experience and many meaningful conversations, for many of us simple fact of becoming better at something, improving, or mastering a new skills or knowledge is deeply meaningful in itself.

A moment to reflect: What are you learning these days? 

Perhaps it is the right moment to get onboard of learning something new?

3 - Connecting and contributing to others

The third drive is the one of contributing to lives of people around us.

It can mean having the big vision to positively impact everyone in the world. But it can also be about our community, our family, friends, special someone. 

It can also be about clients, partners or co-workers whose life we are hoping to make better.

We can also extend it into protecting nature or animals. 

It might be that you are focused on who you working for, or who you are working with – whichever it is, it seems that there is something in us humans that is pulling us to serve and support others, to create world that is better and more friendly that the way we found it.

A moment to reflect: Whose life would you like to impact positively? Who are you serving, supporting, inspiring or contributing to? Who else could you focus on, in order to bring more meaning into your life and work?

These three things- creating, learning & contributing - are three big sources of meaning in life.

They can work independently – meaning, you can make your life feel meaningful by building it around one of these. 

Or you can use the power of all three and ask “What do I wish to create in life, who for (and with whom), and how am I hoping to learn & improve myself on the way?” 

I hope reading about these three sources of meaning in life gave you some insights and ideas that you can apply in your own life. 


Do take a moment to reflect on them, and explore how you can leverage them to create stronger sense of meaning in your own life. 

And if the answer to the first question What makes you feel that life is meaningful? is still not all clear to you – it might be time to dive deeper into it and explore what is it for you.

Would you like more guidance in exploring purpose and vision for your life - as well as your life plan?

Your own personal life vision and mission is one of the questions that we are answering within Life Design workshop. 

A place where in 3h you will explore not only what makes life meaningful for you personally, but also define how do you want to live your life, what is your life vision, what are you looking to learn & create, and what are the specific, action-oriented steps that will take you there. 

It will provide you with a structured process to get away from feeling stuck or confused, a gentle support and a comfortable small group to share the journey with. 

You will leave the workshops with clarity, knowing exactly what are your next steps, and motivated to jump into action.

Stay tuned for updates via our monthly newsletter to be the first one to know when we launch.

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