This past week it was my mom’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!! I live about 2 hours away from my parents, and to be honest, I do not go and visit them as often as I should. I need to be better about this because I love seeing and visiting with them. I feel so relaxed and comfortable at home. They have always been great parents.
I also love the country – the woods, the pond, the four wheelers, etc. My parents live in a small town in southern Indiana, and their home is located back in the woods. You literally drive down a gravel driveway into the woods about ¼ of a mile to get to their house, and it is awesome. They own roughly 150 acres and it brings back great memories of being a kid and playing outside – building four wheeler trails, fishing, and camping.
I have to admit it, I am a country boy at heart.
Anyway, back to the story – it was my mom’s birthday, and I had plans to drive down and surprise her. Her birthday was on a Friday, and I normally have to work Saturdays. Therefore, she never expects me to come down on Fridays.
I was not going to call her all day, which would make her think I forgot about her birthday. I ended up getting to her house at about 8pm on Friday, and you should have seen the look on her face. She was so happy and excited! It worked out perfectly, and we had a great time!
So you may be wondering why I am telling you all of this? The reason is because I was so excited to do this! I thought about it all week and could not wait to see the look on her face. It made me happy to just think about it.
Even now, after the fact, I am so happy that I went to see her. It is a memory that I will not forget.
I recently read an excellent book by Viktor E. Frankl titled, Man’s Search For Meaning. In the book, Frankl explains that man can find meaning in life in three areas: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times.
Frankl goes on to say, “Man is originally characterized by his ‘search for meaning’ rather than his ‘search for himself’. The more he forgets himself – giving himself to a cause or another person – the more human he is. The more he is immersed and absorbed in something for someone other than himself the more he really becomes himself.” (85)
I truly believe there is something about helping people and adding value to others’ lives that brings happiness and meaning to your own life. The very act of trying to make my mom happy on her birthday brought me great happiness.
I am also lucky to have a job where I am able to help others, which also brings me great joy. Almost every day I think about ways I can help my clients achieve their goals and improve their lives. It keeps me quite busy and it can be tiring, but by immersing myself in a greater good I ultimately feel satisfied and happy.
So I want you to think about what gives your life meaning. Do you have work that you love, a significant person or people in your life that give you meaning, or some other reason you live for? If you struggle to find an answer, that is okay. But I encourage you to keep searching.
I want you to understand that meaning in life does not always have to come from “big things” either. Simple, small acts of kindness that bring joy to others are great ways to give your life meaning and purpose. In fact, after surprising my mom on her birthday I have decided that I am making this one of my goals.
Here are some ideas that I have come up with: volunteer, visit family and friends more often, be positive, smile, give compliments, do something unexpected for a person, etc. If you constantly strive to bring happiness to others, I truly believe you will gain just as much happiness from doing so.
So think about how your actions and persona are affecting others. I believe you will be a lot more happy with your life by thinking a little less about yourself and more about others.
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein