Nearly every time I coach a client the question arises: “how do I find meaning in my life?”
Yesterday, when I was running an MasterMind Academy online webinar one of my students taught me an incredibly valuable lesson. I nearly missed it. Perhaps it is only because I have trained myself to be aware, to notice, that I recorded the moment.
In my personal search for meaning I long ago decided that altruism, a genuine concern for the wellbeing of others, plays a very important part in giving meaning to life.
The way I see it is that we are all part of one global tribe. When you contribute to the tribe you feel that you are being of value. So altruism is a double whammy, the tribe benefits from your contribution and you feel good about having made that contribution. This interdependence seems to be fundamental to our feelings of security.
The philosopher monk Matthieu Ricard argues that altruism is an integral part of human nature. He sees an altruistic society as essential if we are to ensure our future as a species. His view is supported by major economists and thinkers like George Soros, Dennis Snower, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz.
What She Did Was Pure Altruism
So, what happened at the webinar that reinforced to me that to find meaning in your life you have to behave altruistically?
One of the attendees at the meeting was struggling to work the controls on his Zoom screen. As with all technology, if you are not familiar with the system it can appear bemusing. As I watched him searching for the correct control to turn off his microphone, his wife leant over his shoulder and pointed to the little ‘mike’ button. I commented, “Ah I see Alan has got his IT department helping him.” She smiled and waved happily as she moved away into the background.
“Not much there,” you may think. Not on the face of it, but then you didn’t see the sheer look of delight that lit up her face for a brief moment before she turned away. She had just helped someone she loves.
For me it was a moment of pure joy to see the happiness that a small act of altruism brought to the helper.
How to Learn The Important Lessons of Life
If you’re not alert, not aware of your environment, it is easy to miss the lessons that are all around you.
I believe that you have to hold your most important values in the forefront of your mind. When you do this you notice the lessons that reinforce those values when they present themselves.
I nearly missed this lesson because I was focussed on preparing to present the webinar. It was only later, when I was reflecting on the webinar, on my presentation and on what I noticed about the participants that the image of the helping wife sprang into my mind. I was amazed by the power of watching that simple act of love. But then again, it was not so amazing when you consider that altruism is a way of living that adds meaning to life.
How You Can Find Meaning in Your Life
Meaning is not what you are, it is who you are. It comes from the core of your being, from the deeply help beliefs that drive you. It is defined by what you do and the way you do it.
The question is, “what have you got to give?”
The answer lies in your natural abilities. Everyone has natural abilities, things they do well. They are often things we really enjoy doing. You don’t have to be the best, a world beater. You just have to do what you do well and do it in a way that benefits other people.
If you find it difficult to discover what you do well, and many people do, our Be An Achiever course is designed to help you find your best qualities. It will help you discover your strengths, your values and your beliefs. It will enable you to encounter all the good points you don’t recognise within yourself. And it will show you how to plan a way of living that will give meaning to your life.