A Meaningful Life Requires Intentional Time
If there is one thing we all wish for, it is to have more time. Whether we wish for more time to work on an essay, prepare for an interview, be with a loved one, or as in my case, to sleep, we’re rarely satisfied with the allotment of time we are given, or that we allow.
Whatever the reason, I often find myself wishing for more time. In a sense, this year has certainly granted that. Although the days are still regulated by 24 hours, the activities as of late have certainly diminished their demands of my time.
Instead of getting dressed and driving to the gym, I’ve been working out at home, free of distractions, with no need to work around others, and no busy downtown parking garage to navigate. Without many commitments in other locales, I haven’t had to spend much time waiting for TSA to screen other passengers or for baggage carousels to deliver my suitcases, either.
Aside from going to work as usual, I have found myself with what feels like “more time.” The past six to nine months have certainly caused me to spend a considerable amount of time and energy searching through the corners of my mind, digging into things like what I believe, why and what I want to accomplish, and how.
Through my own contemplations and myriad thoughts from numerous books and podcasts, something I have been considering lately is the difference between a meaningful life and a sustained life.
The latter can be achieved through simple yet consistent habits that just keep us functioning for the long term. I think about our basic human needs here — food, water, shelter. Sprinkle in a couple friends for companionship, and one could live for a long time without much effort.
However, a meaningful life requires more work, more intentionality, more awareness, more time spent on reflection in addition to the basic necessities that keep us functioning, such as food and water.
A sustained life wouldn’t require much, if anything, from others. A meaningful life though, can’t be meaningful if others aren’t associated.
I believe meaningful represents the value I add to others — to humanity and to my community. If I don’t involve the perspectives and support of others, my contributions will be one-sided, self-centered, and most likely selfish in nature.
We learn from experiences, and most often, those experiences involve others. If we were on a deserted island all by ourselves, with no animals or humans, eventually, every day would feel like “Groundhog Day.” We could sustain life with the help of some MREs, but living a meaningful life on a deserted island would certainly be a challenge.
When we engage ourselves with others, we also develop understanding and maturity in our own perspectives and worldviews. The more I understand the humanity around me and the more respectful I am of the perspectives and worldviews of others, the more I can build valuable relationships and contribute in meaningful ways.
I recently wrote about our seemingly natural tendency to isolate ourselves when things get hard or challenging. Engaging the people around us is a two-fold necessity: Not only does it provide a support system when we need it, but it also allows for our contributions to rise to the surface when others need us.
Make time, not excuses, to better understand yourself and those around you in order to develop a meaningful life.
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