Why Your Life Is Meaningful.. Whether You Intend It To Be Or Not

Why Your Life Is Meaningful.. Whether You Intend It To Be Or Not

If we are prone to depression, sometimes we can feel like we are all alone, and nothing we do matters.

If you are prone to this type of thinking, then I invite you to consider this:

Every day, whether we intend to or not, we affect the lives of others

How?  Keep reading or watch the video, and I’ll share 4 ways your life is meaningful:

  1. Through our buying habits

In a capitalistic democracy, for the vast majority of things we buy, we have infinite number of choices.   We can choose to buy products made by companies that are socially responsible or not.

Take chocolate.  The slave trade and child labor are alive and well in W. Africa.  Often sold by families stricken with poverty, with promises of good pay.  Most age 12-16.  Reporters have found children as young as 5.   Paid < $2 day, below the poverty level, 6am to evening, using chainsaws, climbing trees with a machete.  Use agricultural chemicals with no protection.  Fed corn paste and bananas, sleep on wooden planks.

These farms supply Hershey’s, Mars, Nestle.

In contrast you can buy chocolate from company’s who’s mission is to provide fair wages and and a good income to everyone from the farms, to the factory workers, and to do it sustainably.  Its called Fair Trade and Organic.  My favorite company is Theo, and if you are in Seattle, I highly recommend visiting their store (with tons of free samples), and taking their tour.

If you are in the Seattle area, there is a store called Purpose Boutique that raises awareness about trafficking, sells products created by survivors of trafficking and donates 10% to rescuefreedom.org.

There’s a story behind every purchase we make.   Annie Leonard does a fabulous job of quickly educating us about the electronics industry, bottled water, cosmetics and more with her free videos.  Check them out at the storyofstuff.org.

It can be overwhelming to examine every purchase we make.  But the app Buycott makes this a lot easier!  They’ve done the research, all we need to do is scan the barcode (sometimes they need more info), and then they tell us whether they are in alignment with our concerns!

If you have a lot of passions like me, it can be overwhelming to change all your buying habits at once. I recommend starting with one cause, and then when that gets easy, expand from there.

Every purchase we make is a vote for the type of world we want to live in.  We must choose wisely.

2.  How we treat others

Life is meaningful when we treat each other wellWhether we are watching TV or in any group of 3 or more, we are always observing how the world responds to our own and other’s actions.   How others respond subtly influences our future choices.  For example if a kid takes a gun and shoots other kids in school, and his rampage gets a lot of publicity, other troubled boys model such behavior.  Similarly, a leader who is cruel or corrupt and gets away with it, unconsciously gives permission to others to imitate such behavior.

While cruelty and violence are contagious, so is kindness!

A leader who has integrity and stands up for people who don’t have his or her voice can exert a positive influence on our behavior.  They give us examples of how to get our needs met with integrity.

We don’t need to be an appointed leader to have such influence.   If you are able to read this, chances are likely you have the power to influence others based on not only your reactions to others, but your own behavior.

With each interaction we have, we have a choice to have a positive or negative effect on those around us.  We must choose wisely.


  1. How we treat our environment

Life is meaningful when you treat your environment wellWe are intimately connected to nature even if we aren’t in the woods.  How?

The recent discovery of the microbiome is a great example of how connected we are.  It turns out that our bodies are teaming with microbes.  We have so many of them that we have more bacterial cells than our own!  And these bacteria influence our immune systems, our choices of food, our weight, our susceptibility to chronic diseases and even our mood!

And what determines the makeup of our microbiome?  Well this is still an active area of research, but our interaction with the soil, our food intake, our interaction with other people and even our pets all have the capacity to influence our microbiome!   And since bacteria lives everywhere including our air, soil and water, my guess is that everything we do, or don’t do influences our microbiome!

The cars we drive drain our remaining and limited fossil fuels.  The exhaust from our cars affect air quality.  Air quality not only affects our lungs, but our mood, and our risk of chronic diseases via increased oxidative stress.

All our choices affect our environment, and the creatures around us.  We must choose wisely.

  1. How we choose to spend our time

We can choose to spend our free time watching lots of TV or playing video games, or we can choose to spend it with issues that we care about.   While the later choice isn’t the easier choice, it is far more gratifying.   We get to meet others who care about our issues, and it’s a great way to feel like you are part of a community. Plus, knowing that we’ve done what we can to make a difference helps us feel good about ourselves.   And when we model good behavior, we inspire others to do the same!

Similarly, the careers we choose impact how we feel about ourselves and others.  If we aren’t in alignment with our values, that can eat away at our hearts.  When we are in alignment with service and integrity, we get to feel good about the positive contributions we are making.

Life is meaningful when we use our time wellAnd if you work in a large organization, you might believe that what you do might not really matter that much.  Know that your company or organization wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t think you were necessary.  If you don’t feel valued, then talk to others with similar jobs to ask them how they get meaning from their work.

Even if a company cancels a project you’ve worked hard on, it doesn’t mean what you do is not important.  But sometimes they find problems that can’t be overcome, whether it’s with the project or due to a shift in the market or industry.   Not every project will succeed.  However, if your company doesn’t do a good job of communicating your value, then you might want to consider working at a company that has a better reputation with its employees.

How we choose to spend our time matters.  We must choose wisely.

Regardless of whether we isolate ourselves or choose to spend it with others, most choices we make impact others.  If we choose to live a life that makes a positive difference to others, it helps us feel more connected to the world and our community, and it make our lives much more meaningful!

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