How can I get past the lack of meaning in my life

I'm not currently finding any joy or meaning in my life right now. What should I do to feel better?
Asked by Jay

Dear Jay,

Life is difficult and challenging. Everyone has curveballs thrown at them and it can be hard to figure out what keeps you going each day. There are some ways to find meaning in things again if you feel open to trying them. It might be something that takes time and a little trial and error to see what ends up helping.

One way to find meaning is to practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude entails making note of things that you are grateful for each day. As a way to start you can choose to make a mental note or write down in a journal one to three things you are grateful for each day. It can be simple things like a sunny morning, a good cup of coffee, or no traffic on your way to work. It can also be larger things like being grateful for your body, such as your lungs or your heart and all the things it helps you accomplish every day.  

Another way to find meaning is to remember when was the last time you did feel more of a sense of purpose or meaning. What led to you no longer feeling this way? Did something change? Did something unpleasant happen? We sometimes go into an emotionally protective mode where we distance ourselves from feeling anything either good or bad because something puts us in this mode. If you can recall what used to help you feel a sense of meaning every day it might be something worth trying again. This might include things like hobbies, physical activities, social activities, self-care activities, or other things. Reflecting on what happened before you stopped feeling a sense of meaning can be helpful. 

If you sincerely feel like you have a deep dark cloud that weighs over you each day even if you try to do things that used to help you feel like your life has a meaning then you might want to consider talking to other people about having this feeling. You might want to consider talking to family, friends, mental health professionals, or someone else that you trust. Joining something like an online or in-person support group can also be beneficial if the idea of starting one-on-one therapy sessions is not something you feel comfortable with. Hearing other people talk about similar thoughts or feelings can be validating. Talking and connecting with others can also help you feel a sense of purpose or meaning again. 

One final strategy to focus on to regain a sense of meaning is to try to focus on the aspects of life that are within your control. You can control your thoughts about things, which will also influence you being able to manage your feelings. You can control what you do or who you spend time with. You can make different decisions for yourself that might be healthier for you in the long run. One huge thing that none of us can control is other people. Accepting what is within your control and what is not within your control can also be helpful when it comes to managing challenges.

I hope you find this information beneficial to your process of rediscovering a sense of meaning. I believe that you even asking for help with this shows that you will be able to find meaning again, as it shows that you recognize that something needs to change.