When I open up the discussion about the meaning of life with those whom I have the pleasure of knowing, coaching, teaching and facilitating, most individuals respond with this:
What do you mean?
The majority of people seem to spend their whole lives dissatisfied, in search of a purpose.
In other words, their lives are meaningless.
Being French myself, we have this saying, raison d’être, which means ‘reason for being’.
With the risk of sounding biased, the French truly lead by example when it comes to the reason to be. This is why they appreciate the simplest things in life. Investing time with family or friends. Fantasising about what they are going to create for the next meal. How they are going to indulge and devote some of their precious time in nature for the weekend.
It’s all about living life with a sense of purpose and finding your reason for being.
You are allowed to take your time
Another beautiful French saying is la joie de vivre – ‘the joy of living’.
The French like to take their time. Whether it’s drinking un petit café or having an aperitif with a friend, they always slow down and enjoy whatever they are doing.
They are present.
When my family comes over from France, they are blown away by our fast pace, how much we work and how we can eat on the go. For them, food is family, conversation and connection. This is why you could sit at a dining table for up to five hours just connecting and contemplating life.
No matter what, they will always have time to talk about food, what we will be eating the next time we are together as a family.
This is a simple yet powerful example of the joy of living.
Enjoy every moment
Whether described as haute cuisine or hearty homemade dishes, gastronomy is serious business for the French.
The French talk about soul food. We would sit around a table and invest our time, our energy, our love and our laughter into the food we were preparing – each of us with a job to do.
The French are so serious about food that they have many sayings and old ‘wives-tales’ like:
- A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.
- If you are feeling angry or sad, do not cook, because that energy will go into the food and pass on to your guests.
This is giving purpose in what you do and why you do it.
This is giving meaning to one’s life, starting with the little things that count the most.
Discover your ikigai
There are many other cultures with similar beliefs of enjoying every moment as if that very day were their last.
For example, in Japanese culture, there is ikigai, meaning ‘a reason for being’.
According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai. However, finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as highly important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.
Rumi shares with us that there’s an artist inside you that you don’t know about. So, if we were to put that into perspective, what is your purpose here? Is it to:
Whatever resonates with you, that’s the very thing that you must do.
Regardless if it’s a side hustle or something you completely immerse yourself in, this will give you meaning. This will give you a life worth living. This will give you something to live for – the joy and goal of living, of being alive.
Your reason for being
A raison d’être is your reason for living. Your ikigai is what makes life worth living, the reason for being, the reason for waking up in the morning.
The process of allowing the self’s possibilities to unfold, bloom and flourish is really like a treasure map. A treasure map that will help you find your way to discovering enjoyable, astonishing and phenomenal things about yourself.
To find your ikigai, think about what makes you jump out of bed in the morning.
There are four very important questions to ponder over when seeking your ikigai:
- What do you love? Your passion – cooking, travelling, volunteering, making videos, investing time in the wild, decorating, etc.
- What does the world need? Your mission – social justice, philanthropy, wisdom for life, servant leaders, relatability, the truth, tolerance and acceptance, unity, etc.
- What are you good at? Your vocation – personal or professional development, public speaking, writing, empathy, listening, open-mindedness, leadership, etc.
- What are you paid for? Your profession – coaching, mentoring, project management, property, training, teaching, etc.
Purpose is a combination of what you are good at, what you love, what the world needs and what you are paid for.
A life of meaning
Now, it’s your time to grab a piece of paper and pen to fill out the questions:
- What do I love?
- What am I good at?
- What can I be paid for?
- What does the world need?
Your meaningful life is not just a destination.
Your life can start today.
A little bit of joy every day will add up to a lifetime of joy.