Meaning is profoundly social. It is quite valid that people’s connection to other humans gives them a high sense of meaning in life. Therefore, loneliness, rejection and exclusion all lead to feelings of meaninglessness and unhappiness. Meaning and happiness go hand-in-hand, but not always. It is not sufficient to define meaning as simply the result of being socially accepted and loved. That would be happiness. Happiness comes from what people give to you. And meaning is derived from what you give to people. Meaning is entirely about feeling socially significant, mattering – a deeply satisfied feeling that one is making a difference through his or her actions.
Humans irresistibly long to feel desired and valued by others. Having social relationships are necessary, but not all that is needed to feel like one matters. Yes, people need to matter. People matter. In fact, the opposite of feeling like one matter is feeling like a burden, which is a major factor of suicide.
Religion is an influential source of meaning. It isn’t just like any platform that presents people the opportunity to socialize. Religion gives a powerful feeling of mattering by the knowledge that one has an obligation to family, friends and even strangers. This is why we have many believers feeling that their lives are a matter of purpose devised by God. Even among those who have doubts about God or the validity of religious stories believe that they ought to make meaning out from their brief mortal lives.
Individualism is at the heart of this piece as well. It has led many to discover and pursue aspirations based on personal interests. It has freed many to traverse through a wide range of steps to meaning.
To a great number of people, marriage gives meaning to their lives. Taking care of their spouses and children matters to them and so they derive meaning from it. Although it doesn’t feel so to others. In today’s liberal individualistic world, many young adults are all about work, which defines meaning to them.
Meaning is important. It is motivational. When people feel useful, they are inspired, energized and optimistic. It has influenced a wide range of positive life results, making it a strength that should be found and made to flourish.