Living with purpose: 11 habits of people with meaningful lives

“Rules for happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.” 

— Immanuel Kant

Many of us spend our days on autopilot – all too often, we let life “happen to us” instead of getting out there and living life on our terms. 

But that shouldn’t be the case. The thing is, our time here on Earth is limited. When you think of it like that, you can see that we should be making every minute count. 

How do we do that? How can we lead fulfilling and purposeful lives instead of drifting along wherever the current takes us? 

The truth is, those who live with purpose have developed certain habits that help them stay on track and achieve their goals.

If you’re looking to inject a sense of purpose and meaning into your life, you’re in the right place. 

In this article, I’ll explore the habits of people who lead meaningful lives and how you can incorporate them into your own life. 

Let’s dive in! 

1) People with meaningful lives practice mindfulness

Let’s begin with the first step in every journey towards a purposeful life – mindfulness

Mindful living is the practice of being present in the moment and fully engaged with what you’re doing. 

It’s the exact opposite of autopilot – when you’re mindful, your every action has a purpose. No time to waste on meaningless stuff that doesn’t serve to enrich your life!

To become more present, start by incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing or meditation

Positive affirmations also help improve self-awareness and change negative thought patterns to positive ones.   

And don’t forget to limit distractions – that nasty yet addictive habit of staring at your phone or TV for hours on end while life happens around you? It’s time to ditch that and participate in real-life activities! 

2) They nourish their bodies

Here’s another habit people with meaningful lives take seriously. Just as they practice mindfulness and take care of their mental health, they also prioritize their physical health. 

When you’re busy, it’s easy to fall back in terms of healthy eating. After all, ordering takeout is quick and convenient. I know all about it, I’m no stranger to the Uber Eats app myself!

But here’s the thing: this can quickly spiral into a full-blown habit of eating junk food frequently. To get a balanced diet, nothing beats a good home-cooked meal. 

And while you’re at it, start a regular exercise routine and make sure you get enough sleep every day. 

These habits will enable you to stay healthy. That way, you’ll be fit enough to see your goals and vision through!

3) They set goals and prioritize them

Speaking of goals leads me to this next habit – goal-setting

The very word “purposeful” should give you a clue about the mindset you want to have going forward. 

“What should I do with my life? What do I hope to achieve? How do I achieve it?” 

These are questions you should be asking yourself if you want to give your life a sense of direction and purpose

People with meaningful lives have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve, and they actively work towards their goals. 

They prioritize their goals and make sure they allocate time and resources to achieve them. 

As a starting point, begin by setting clear and achievable goals for yourself, and then make a plan for how you’ll reach them.

4) They continuously learn and grow

Because people who live with purpose have concrete goals, they also have a growth mindset

What does this mean? 

It means they are always open to learning new things and growing in the process. They know they can’t get to where they want to be if they are pretty set in their ways. 

That’s why they constantly seek out new experiences and opportunities to learn and grow. They’re never satisfied with simply maintaining the status quo. 

How do you get the growth mindset yourself? 

Simple – set aside some time each day to learn something new and challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.

Believe me, once you’ve conquered that fear of leaving your comfort zone, you’ll feel so proud of yourself!

5) They invest in experiences instead of things

This is another thing that people with a growth mindset prioritize. 

You see, they place more importance on experiences instead of material things because of the opportunities for learning the former offers. 

Think about it – owning a fabulous designer bag or enrolling in a pottery workshop? 

Which one has more value in terms of growth and learning

The science confirms this – spending on experiences vs. possessions makes people happier and more satisfied. 

6) They embrace challenges and failures

Now, a fair warning – as you begin to explore new and unfamiliar places, let me tell you…it won’t be easy. 

But that’s okay! Take this lesson from people who live with purpose: view challenges and failures as opportunities for growth and learning. 

They understand that setbacks are an inevitable part of life, and they use them as opportunities to become stronger and more resilient

To develop this habit, start by embracing challenges and failures as opportunities for growth, and focus on what you can learn from them rather than dwelling on the setbacks.

And if you’re feeling really discouraged, here’s a thought to repeat to yourself: 

Nothing good ever comes easy. 

That said, it becomes easier when you’ve got the right people around you… 

7) People with meaningful lives surround themselves with positive people

That’s right, you can’t (and you shouldn’t) go through life alone – that’s a surefire recipe for loneliness. 

Instead, do like purpose-driven people do and surround yourself with positive and supportive people

People who live with purpose seek out relationships with others who lift them up and encourage them to pursue their goals. 

Whether it’s with family, friends, or coworkers, positive relationships provide us with a support system and help us lead a more fulfilling life

8) They serve others

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

— Winston Churchill

I love this quote by Winston Churchill, and it has really helped give my life a sense of purpose. 

All too often, we get caught up in our own heads, stuck in an endless pursuit of happiness that never seems fulfilling. 

But you know what? 

When I started thinking less of myself and more about what I can do for others, it really made a huge difference in the way I lived my life. It helped me be a more empathetic person!

The same is true for everyone. Whether it’s volunteering at a local food bank or mentoring a young person, serving others helps us feel more connected to the world and fulfilled in our lives. 

People who live with purpose understand the importance of giving back to their communities and serving others. 

If you want to get involved, start by finding a cause you’re passionate about and finding ways to participate. 

Or how about something simple that reaps tremendous rewards – do a daily act of kindness!

Trust me, you’ll feel a renewed zest for living with this habit!

9) They aim to achieve balance

All this talk about goals and serving others might make living meaningfully sound exhausting

That couldn’t be farther from the truth, though. 

Because people with meaningful lives have also discovered the secret of achieving balance. They know that life is best lived when they’ve nailed that balance between pursuing their goals and taking care of themselves. 

Doesn’t that make sense? 

Think about it for a minute. Yes, you might think you’re living purposefully because you’re constantly on the go, available to help others 24/7. 

The problem with that is, it’s unsustainable. And worse, it can lead to burnout.  

Even people who are passionate about volunteering, for example, can experience physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. 

So, it’s important to regularly assess and manage your workload, seek help when you need it, and engage in self-care practices to achieve balance. 

10) They cultivate gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool for living a meaningful life. After all, you can’t feel like life is worth living if you see only the bad things and the disappointments. 

Those who are grateful for what they have and what they’ve accomplished are more likely to feel fulfilled and satisfied. 

How do you stay thankful every day? 

Start by taking time each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for and write it down in a journal.

11) They take responsibility for their lives

Lastly, what’s the single most important thing you can do for a meaningful life? 

Own it!

Here’s the thing: many of us fall into the victim mentality, blaming others for our problems and feeling like we never have control over our decisions. 

I get it – no one is immune to lapsing into self-pity and a “poor me” mindset. I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt this way myself. 

But that’s a weak and defeatist attitude. Because the truth is, no one else is responsible for our happiness. 

Life is what we make it, period.

People who live with purpose know this. They take responsibility for their lives and understand that their choices and actions determine the direction of their lives. 

So put yourself in the driver’s seat – start by accepting responsibility for your own life and making conscious decisions that align with your values and goals.

Final thoughts

No matter how lofty your goals and values are, you won’t be able to meet them if you don’t cultivate the habits to support them. 

Whether it’s setting goals, practicing gratitude, or embracing challenges, these habits will help you lead a more meaningful life. 

So, pick one or two of these habits to start with and work on incorporating them into your daily routine. With time and practice, you’ll be on your way to living a more fulfilling and purposeful life!

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