“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Life can seemingly be going very well, you may have a good job, enjoy laughter with friends and be surrounded by family. Then one day we can wake up feeling uninspired. At other times, big challenges can come our way to knock us off our path which can lead feelings of depression.
We mightn’t be able to be happy every day. But, we can begin to live our life in line with our core values, live a meaningful life and use our strengths more regularly. We can also meditate for new pathways of thinking. In doing so we will nearly always have a light house guiding us though the storms of life helping us thrive more than simply survive.
Why can we feel lost?
There are many reasons why we can feel lost in life. David Chorlton, a Positive Psychology Practitioner and founder of Meaningful Paths provides the following insights to help you create a life of well-being and purpose.
Hedonic adaptation – Quite often we believe that if we ‘have’ then we can ‘be’. In other words, if we have achieved something such as a new car or a promotion, then can we be happy.
Whilst a holiday, a new car or a promotion can certainly bring well-being benefits, these pleasures are often short term. After a time this type of pleasure reverts back to the previous base line of happiness that you had beforehand. Understanding this concept will help guide you on where to focus your attention and energy for happiness in life that is subjective to you.
Many people say that after 1-2 years of marriage the initial euphoria of being married has worn off. Enjoy that euphoria and wellness but it’s important to focus on the continual connection, meaningful moments and romance to ensure the best chance of lasting marriage over the wedding itself.
Values -We often live our lives chasing rainbows in the form of the hedonic treadmill and not in alignment with our core values. If we live our lives and act based on our core values, we can begin to live a meaningful life which will in turn become purposeful living.
When we live in alignment with our values and live a meaningful life, we always have an internal compass – an idea on where we are going. It is the mindful presence and journey that will bring the most growth and positive emotions. The compass may not tell you every step of the way but it gives you a direction to move towards.
Character Strengths – Many of us are not aware of our character strengths and nor do we make use of them on a regular basis. Character strengths are pre-determined, and they naturally energise us and help us to get into a state of flow.
Think of child who is extremely curious by nature or a child that loves puzzles. This is different to a skill which is a learned skill and which may not naturally energise us.
Talents often have a strong biological loading to them such as the perfect pitch. Think of a moment where time stood still, you were doing something and it flowed naturally, energised you and everything felt very authentic. You were likely using one or more of your natural strengths at that moment in time.
Imagine a part time artist who has a strength for creativity. If this artist had to work in an admin role, they would be spending the majority of their week in work not making use of what naturally energises them and doing tasks that do not feel authentic to them. Of course, we need to be sensible and balance varying life domains such as work to provide an income that puts food on the table.
In summary, if we use our strengths as often as possible and optimally, then we will more often feel energised and full of wellbeing. This will help us to not feel lost and also help us during challenging times.
What can we do to find our path again?
How can we adopt the above concepts into our lives more often?
#1 – Mindfulness to find values
When we practice mindfulness-based meditations or even mindful thinking we are more open and awake to the beauty around us. A parent returning home from work with a lot of pressures could either hug their daughter in a rushed way – thinking about work, or they could embrace the hug with sheer presence and love. A jogger going for a run in a scenic area could be stuck in their head thinking about their problems, or they could embrace the beautiful outdoors, the smells, the sounds, the views and more.
We can all get stuck in our minds at times with challenges and stresses. If we practice mindfulness daily it can provide a gateway to discovering what is truly meaningful to us and to give us a chance of pausing life without succumbing to external pressures.
#2 – Compassion Meditation
When we first wake up in the morning our minds can be particularly impressionable as we go through varying brain wave states. If the first thing we read when we wake us is a negative news article, then that piece of news will likely cause our next actions to be based on negative thought processes.
By practicing compassion meditation when first waking up and also before going to bed we are ensuring that we cleanse our mind before going to sleep and we also start our day with positive thinking patterns and compassion. From here we can be more positive throughout the day and have a greater chance of positive social interactions, creative thinking and much more.
#3 – Strengths Journalling
Make notes on days and moments during the day when you feel in a state of flow, naturally energised and things seem to go well for you. Assess what strengths you may have been using at that moment in time. Assess from week to week when you felt good and what may have led to those positive emotions arising. What were you doing at that moment in time?
We can feel lost in our lives for many reasons and the reality is, we cannot be happy all of the time. Sometimes our greatest learnings come from deep challenging situations.
When we feel lost or uninspired it might be because you are not living in alignment with your values, you are not using your strengths often enough in your daily life, and you may place much of your happiness and well-being on external rewards that produce hedonic adaptation.
Instead, work toward instilling habits to practice compassion meditation before bed and in the morning. Practice mindfulness, explore your values and explore what is meaningful to you in life, and take notes on times in your life when you feel really good and ask yourself what strengths am I using?