Meaning doesn't come from jobs.


Just having a job does not give your life meaning. Work in itself does not give your life meaning.

Some of the discourse around government "hand-outs" these days sounds like this:

People need meaning in their lives. And meaning comes from work. So if the government provides hand-outs, people will feel less incentive to work. Therefore they will lose their life's meaning.

Awww shucks, gov! You're concerned about my life's meaning. So that's why you won't break the cycle of poverty? That is so sweet.

Fuck that.

News flash: The government cannot give your life meaning either.

No one owes you meaning. And no one can give your life meaning.

Meaning is created. Not provided.

If you want meaning in your life you have to do stuff that creates an impact that is meaningful to you. Period.

And I don't mean impact like saving all the world's children or the whales or polar bears.

I mean impact as in effect. Cause and effect: You cause something that creates an effect that you find meaningful.

You see a person struggling to carry something heavy across the street.

Someone near you spills their purse right before the subway pulls up.

You overhear two people sounding lost, trying to figure out which direction to go.

Is helping others meaningful to you? Lucky you.

There is a buffet of opportunities to help others in big and small ways all around you every day.

Is making things beautiful meaningful to you? Great.

Tidy up. Arrange some flowers. Make some art. There's plenty of ugly waiting for you to transform.

Is learning something new meaningful to you? Awesome.

Take a class. Learn an instrument. Do a DIY project. You'll never run out of subjects to study.

Is working with others toward a shared goal meaningful to you? Perfect.

Join a jogging group. Cook with a friend. Volunteer at a garden. Your people will find you when you start looking for them.

Meaning can be created across every facet of our lives—not just in our work, and—lord help us—especially not just at our jobs.

Stop waiting for that perfect project or relationship or company to come along. Figure out what feels meaningful to you. Then just start doing stuff each day that creates that effect.

A meaningful life is simply a life full of meaningful moments.

So go start creating some today.

Eddie Shieh, PCC, MFA