7 Strategies On How To Live A Meaningful Life

Turning 60 years this month was a piece of cake.

I took stock of the years I spent working on how to live a meaningful life.

How To Live A Meaningful Life

Pacific Ocean – Carmel California

Observing that I’m feeling vibrant, grateful, and healthy.

I’m at ease, calm, and filled with a ‘knowing’ that very few things in life matter.

And that whatever time I have left on this earth, I will spend it living my values.

I want the remainder of my life to be about connecting, loving, kindness, caring, having fun, being joyful, and laughing.

An Old Belief System Needs To Be Updated

Although my 50s were good years, they had a different flavor to them.

They were filled with a lot of left over stuff that I was dealing with.

An old belief system about productivity, goals, and making meaning out of life.

I spent most of the decade working through those ingrained values that kept me racing, producing, seeking, and much of the time in a state of dis-ease.

Don’t get me wrong.

From my 30s on, I was living a rich and joyful life on many levels.  Not only did I have family and friends that I loved, but I morphed into a passionate gardener, a garden designer, a published author, and a recognized broadcaster.

I was deeply connected to communities in urban areas of Philadelphia. I worked closely with Vietnamese refugees that  miraculously landed in Philadelphia. I created a non-profit inner city motivational program for elementary school children that was pretty incredible. It was nutrition for the souls of all of us who worked in the program – and for the students.

I also returned to playing and studying the piano with an intensity that I hadn’t experienced since my teenage years.

But sometimes I would hear the whispers of an old voice echoing ‘you need to do more’, ‘you’re not enough’.

All the phrases that left me feeling bad about myself.  Disappointed in what I hadn’t achieved. Even ashamed.

The Truth About Our Negative Thoughts

In bestselling author Rick Hanson’s riveting new book, Hardwiring for Happiness, he talks about how we are hardwired with a negativity bias.

Due to creatures’ 600 million years of survival challenges, their evolving nervous system became hardwired for negativity – which translates into Hanson’s phrase “negativity is ‘velcro’ and positivity is ‘teflon'”.

And with 40,000- 60,000 thoughts that humans experience every day, researchers say that 80% of them are negative. That translates into 32,000 – 48,000 negative thoughts that we experience on a daily basis.

So, even after doing all of the work that any of us have done, and feeling that we’ve  made significant inroads on updating values and living them,  in no way can we vanquish them.  But we can work at minimizing the bad thoughts and focus on the ‘good’ moments every day.

Think In Terms of A Lifetime Journey

Knowing these facts, rather than sprinting to get to the other side of this spiritual journey, I’ve come to accept and embrace a lifetime journey of ~

Focusing on the process, rather than on the end result.

Maintaining a beginner’s mind.

Learning to accept death – and live life more fully.

Attaining a state of peace and joy.

Self acceptance and forgiveness.

Slowing down and observing.

‘Being’ rather than ‘doing’.

Experiencing the rapture of being alive.

Sinking into a state of peace and joy.

Take Ownership of Who Your Are

As I enter a new decade, I am taking ownership of who I am.

An individual with some wisdom, lots of experience, and a desire to connect more freely and on a deeper level with humans, nature, the animal world, and non-living things.

I want to share what I have to offer.

To not only do it verbally or with the written word.

But silently sending love, blessings, and healing energy into the world

7 Strategies On How To Live A Meaningful Life

 1. Own your core values and practice living them.

Reflect on what they are. If you don’t know, dream about how you want to live and who you strive to be.

2. Work on the stuff that matters – and let go of everything else.

Not sure what the stuff is that matters? Keep a running list of the clutter you want to get rid of  and a list of the stuff that you want to include.

Then start working on it. Minimally discard and/or include one thing per day.

3. Laugh every day.

If you come home from a stressful day at work, watch a favorite sitcom that makes you laugh.

Observe the opportunities you have at home, socially, and at work where you can create an environment of laughter and fun.

4. Connect with at least one person a day.

It doesn’t need to be someone you know. It can be striking up a conversation with a stranger on the street, or talking to a grocery store clerk.

5. Let your heart be your compass. Listen to your intuition.

When something does not sit right with you, even though logic tells you it’s a good thing, follow the advice of your ‘wise self’.

 6. Listen deeply.

We live in a world of constant chatter.  When someone is talking with you, focus on what they are saying and really listen. Work at being silent.

  7. Practice mindfulness.

Simply put, being mindful is about living in the present – every moment of every day – with no thoughts about the past or the future.

Practicing mindfulness is a life time pursuit ~ and well worth it.

It’s a road to leading a more connected and joyful life.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.  Share the strategies you use to live a more meaningful life.

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About Fran

Fran’s book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, now considered a classic, was groundbreaking when published as no one had written about gardening in the context of creativity, spirituality, and transformation.

In addition to being a recognized garden expert and deep ecologist, Fran is also a broadcaster, journalist, Ordained Interfaith Minister, and Soul Tender. All of her work is based on her deep belief that our need to connect to the earth is an inherent trait – and that by doing so, we heal and experience more joy in our lives.

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20 Responses to 7 Strategies On How To Live A Meaningful Life

  1. Linda Eskeldson November 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    Thanks for your post. I will turn 60 in a month, and so much of what you said resonates with me. Here’s to many more meaningful years for both of us!

    • Fran November 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

      Dear Linda-
      It is amazing how quickly 60 creeps on you. There was a phase in my 50s where I felt a sense of loss – a letting go of younger years. But that has passed. Life is good. An early Happy 60th. Warmly, Fran

  2. David Stevens November 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    Excellent Post Fran,
    As you know I will turn 60 at end of next year … the Adventure continues.
    You have covered many bases here with wisdom, good humour … easy to read.

    Be good to yourself
    David
    David Stevens recently posted…4 Questions, 3 Steps and 1 Big AttitudeMy Profile

    • Fran November 12, 2013 at 5:56 am #

      Dear David-

      I knew that you were turning 60 BUT for some reason, I thought that you were leading the way – and that it had already happened.
      Am glad you enjoyed my thoughts. Your fellow blogger – Fran

  3. Meeta November 9, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    Happy Birthday Fran!!
    It’s always such a delight to read your posts. I have been a regular reader since sometime now and love the wisdom and brilliance of your articles.

    Besties
    Meeta

    • Fran November 12, 2013 at 5:54 am #

      Dear Meeta-

      First, I love your signature ‘Besties’. My daughter uses it when referring to her friends.

      Secondly, thank you for your support and kind words. They mean a great deal to me. Warmly, Fran

  4. Jayme Bednarczyk November 9, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    I am right there with you sweet Fran! You continue to inspire to Dig Deep… Grateful!

    • Fran November 12, 2013 at 5:52 am #

      Dear Jayme –

      What a nice comment to wake up to this morning. Thank you for your kind words! Warmly, Fran

  5. Vishnu November 12, 2013 at 3:42 am #

    Thanks for writing these reflections Fran. This is sage advice we can use at any age in our lives. All of them resonate but numbers 2 and 5 do the most. I’ve been letting go of what no longer serves me and regularly recycling myself of late. It allows for what matters to come into my life. Also, we can only go so long in life ignoring or suppressing our intuition. Once we come to realize how right and powerful our inner guiding voice it, we can start relying on it more and making better decisions in our life. That has been the game changer for me. While I’m on to some of these tips for meaningful living, I can definitely do more of others.

    Thank you for the inspiration and have a great year ahead!

    • Fran November 12, 2013 at 5:51 am #

      Dear Vishnu-

      Isn’t it amazing how easily we ignore the ‘wise whisper in our ear’ – our intuition – and just let it fade away. I don’t know at what point in a person’s life that she/he is aware that this voice is a critical tool in getting to our real selves and living a joyful life.

      Bravo to you for being able to even work on 2 behavioral changes -deeply entrenched ones – at the same time. If an individual works on just one behavioral change- with intent- it’s amazing how significantly the quality of his life improves.

      Vishnu -thank you for your comments. You honesty and thoughts always bring a smile to my face. Warmly, Fran

  6. Tess The Bold Life November 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Hey Fran,

    Happy Birthday!!!

    Work on the stuff that matters – and let go of everything else. For me this means working on what I’m giving back and what in my life really makes a difference. The rest…meaningless. My ego gets me going in all directions to keep me distracted from…love. That’s it for me.

    Celebrate! xo

    • Fran November 13, 2013 at 8:31 am #

      Hi dear Tess –

      What synchronicity – I am re-reading sections of Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’ which is focusing on the ego and how it controls us. Isn’t it interesting that those of us who studied psychology were taught that a ‘strong ego’ was positive! So much for Freud! :)

  7. Betsy/Zen Mama November 12, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Fran,
    This is such an inspiring post! I can’t pick which part I like best because everything is so beautifully written. I’m going to print this out and keep it close by.
    Thanks!
    xoxo
    Betsy

    • Fran November 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      Dear Betsy –

      Your words are appreciated – especially coming from the Zen-Mama who is walking the walk (even though you are Generation X!!) A big hug – Fran

  8. richmiraclefiles November 17, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    Hi Fran,
    That’s an excellent post.And there is a tangible note of growth and evolution ringing through your words.Very profound indeed.I’m glad you touched on these issues here,because midlife is genuinely a period when we all tend to become contemplative about a host of crucial issues.Life is one of them ,and comprhending it is very critical to our growth.
    I completely agree with all the aspects you ahve brought up.And at the same time I’d like to add that humility in life is vital.As we go along it is important to grow into humility.
    Unless you have dollops of humility you do not have true courage.In fact humility is unadultrated courage,because it is centered in inner strength .Without humility, the seeming courage,is mere arrogance.And that is just adolescence crystallised forever.
    Thanks
    Mona
    richmiraclefiles recently posted…Courage Is The Cussedness of Persisting in Your EffortsMy Profile

    • Fran November 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      Dear Mona –

      You are 100% on target adding humility as a critical part of the foundation of living an authentic, joyful life. It takes years of work to understand how it seeps into every nook of our ego. It is counter-intuitive to everything our culture has taught us – to compete, be the best, and tell the world about your accomplishments. I have always felt that truly great people – the ones I am instinctively drawn to- are humble.

      Thanks so much for your comments. I checked out your blog which is lovely. It’s clear that you are working on the stuff in this life that matters. Warmly, Fran

  9. richmiraclefiles November 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Hi Fran
    Thanks a ton for visiting my site.
    Your encouragement matters a lot.And it also shows the humility in action from your side!!
    Sincerely
    Mona
    richmiraclefiles recently posted…SIMPLE MAGIC WAND TO MANIFEST YOUR VISIONMy Profile

    • Fran December 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Mona – it’s absolutely my pleasure. Warmly, Fran

  10. Max Arthur May 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I’m now living a meaningful life, thanks to these tips.
    Max Arthur recently posted…myTonic.netMy Profile

    • Fran May 26, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Max- I’m smiling as I read this. Thanks for letting me know that my post was helpful to you. Warmly, Fran

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