Mt Lawley Counselling Centre, Perth - Western AustraliaMt Lawley Counselling Centre, Perth - Western Australia

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Creating a Meaningful Life

Rebecca Lyon

Psychologist
Perth, Western Australia

At some point in our lives most of us question our purpose and wonder "why we are here?" We are easily caught up in a whirlwind of work, kids, running a household, paying, bills and trying to fit a multitude of tasks into each day. Life becomes a never ending 'to do' list and can foster a state of emptiness, exhaustion and stress. If unaddressed, these states can significantly impact our wellbeing and may lead to anxiety, depression, burnout and health issues. They can also affect those closest to us causing conflict in our relationships, our ability to parent effectively, disruptions to our social relationships, and difficulty at work.

What can be done about this? How can we address these toxic states of being and instead create and live a life that is meaningful, fulfilled, and leaves us feeling happy and content?

Contemplate

Put aside some time to reflect on where your life is right now. What is currently going well for you and what isn't? Ask yourself the following questions:

What is my life about right now?

What do I want my life to look like?

What is in my power of control and what isn't?

Consider the following areas:

  • Family relations
  • Marriage/couple relations
  • Parenting
  • Social relations
  • Career
  • Personal development/education
  • Recreation
  • Spirituality
  • Community life
  • Physical health
  • Mental health and wellbeing

Values

Deep down inside, what is important to you? What do you want your life to stand for? What sort of qualities do you want to cultivate as a person? How do you want to be in your relationships with others? According to Russ Harris (2008) values are our heart's deepest desires for the way we want to interact with and relate to the world, other people, and ourselves. They are leading principles that can guide us and motivate us as we move through life. Values reflect what you want to do, and how you want to do it. They are about how you want to behave towards your friends, your family, yourself, your environment, your work, etc.

Some examples of values are:

  • I want to be a loving, caring and supportive partner
  • I strive to be an emotionally available and engaged parent to my children
  • It is really important to me that I give back to the community I live in
  • I aim to treat all people including myself with kindness and self-compassion
  • I want to be able to fully apply myself in my career to the best of my ability
  • I try to always be there for my family and friends when they need me

Goals

Think about some goals you may be able to achieve in order to live out your values. For example, if one of your values is to give back to the community in which you live you might set the following goals:

  • Find out about the needs of my community,
  • Join a local community group and regularly attend meetings,
  • Set aside some time each week/fortnight/month to give my time and energy to the groups causes.

Do less, have less

Most of us have a never ending to do list, ongoing work pressure and set unrealistic standards for ourselves in relation to the many roles we have as partner, friend, parent, carer etc. Our lives are busy and over scheduled leaving no room for just being. Proponents of "slow" or "mindful" living subscribe to the idea of slowing our lives down by doing less and having less belongings so we can connect intentionally with how we want to live our life. If we do less and have less things it becomes easier to connect more fully with the activities we choose to do and the belongings we choose to have. Some ways to do less and have less include:

  • Decluttering your living space.
  • Cutting down on extracurricular activities,
  • Being selective in which social engagements you attend
  • Saying "no" more often
  • Creating time in your day to rest
  • Making a commitment to move slower
  • Practising mindful eating
  • Pausing more often to take some calming breaths.

If this article was of interest for you and you would like some assistance with creating a meaningful life please contact Rebecca on 0438 920 056 or rebeccalyon12@gmail.com.

Rebecca Lyon
Psychologist

Mt Lawley Counselling Centre
13 Alvan Street
Mt Lawley (Perth) WA 6050

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