“To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.” ― Bill Watterson
As changes and choices present themselves to us we can look at each of them in isolation or we can look at our options through the lens of the broader meaning of our lives. While the meaning of life is the eternal question, what gives meaning to each individual life is a matter of personal expression. To answer the question, what should my life look like, on a personal level we can also ask:
If I had to give up one goal what would be last on my list?
On a dreary day what is my sure-fire mood brightener?
What do I do just for myself that excites me to think about?
As the questioning process begins, being observant becomes part of the search. Paying attention to the times when one becomes passionate in a conversation, when one jumps out of bed excited for the day’s activities, when an activity causes the Zen-like paying attention without seeming to; all cues to the things that shape the meaning of one’s life.
The weave of your life, the threads you choose, the colors you accentuate, the texture and weight, all yours. A life of meaning can be unconventional, success defined in non-traditional ways. It can be selfless and courageous, quiet and introspective, brash and world-shaping. The meaning one derives from the living of their life is as unique as the person who has chosen that path.
Refusing to have the meaning of our lives defined for us, to fail to bow to the cultural and societal norms if our inclination is to do otherwise, is not taken lightly. Stepping outside the circle drawn around us to seek another shape and pattern, creating definition from internal yearnings, wearing passion draped lightly or wrapped snuggly; the value comes from within and may not be a twin to the values foisted from without. It is not easy, it is a life’s work; the lightness that lifting off the cloak of convention allows is the undeniable feeling of happiness.