How to Make Your Life Matter (Youth)

          Most people want to live a life that feels meaningful. It can be difficult to cultivate a meaningful life, especially if you’re young. Try to explore yourself and your passions. Figure out what matters to you and then work to pursue it.

Part 1 :Figuring Out Who You Are

  • 1 Define your life story. If you want to have a meaningful life, the first step is to understand your own life story. How you interpret the events of your life impacts how you see yourself and the world around you. Try to reflect on your life and develop a positive and meaningful life story.
    • Review the events of your life. When have you felt strongest and happiest? What hardships have you faced? It can help to jot down a brief narrative of your life, starting at your earlier memories and moving into the present moment. X Research source
    • Try to find meaning in the various stories of your life. There’s a lot of power in being able to construct your own sense of meaning and purpose. For example, think of a challenge you faced. Maybe you’ve always struggled with math. Despite studying very hards, your grades have always been lackluster. You can read this as evidence that you work hard but still aren’t rewarded. However, try to find a more positive, inspiring meaning here. This shows you are the type of person who works hard because you feel it’s important to work hard. You do not expect external rewards for your efforts and continue to persevere even in the face of setbacks. Your struggles with this particular subject in school can easily speak to your strong character. X Research source
  • 2 Explore your sense of purpose. If you want to make your life matter, you need a sense of purpose. What drives you as a person? What difference do you want to make in the world? It can take a long time to develop a clear sense of purpose. Youth is a great time to explore and question your own purpose. While you may not come to an answer until you’re an adult, take some time to consider the possible purposes for your life.
    • Consider yourself and your principles. How do you define right and wrong? How do you want to make an impact on the world? Some people want to help others directly, through service, while others want to inspire those around them through works of art or writing. How can you see yourself serving a greater purpose or meaning? Why? X Research source
    • Your life is probably very busy. Between school, a social life, and other activities you are likely occupied with tasks throughout the day. Try to pause during your day, however, for a few moments to question why you’re doing what you’re doing. This can help you cultivate a sense of purpose. For example, why are you taking time after school for horseback riding lessons? What about the practice is meaningful to you? Do you care about animals? Can you see yourself finding purpose in working towards improving animal welfare? Any small, seemingly meaningless activity you engage in can help you foster a sense of purpose. X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
  • 3 Explore your passions. Your youth is a great time to explore your interests and passions. Spend some time figuring out what inspires you, what pushes you to be a better person. This can help you live a meaningful life.
    • Work on exploring your interests. Join a club in school that you think you might like. Engage in an extracurricular activity, like joining a sport’s team, and see if you enjoy it.
    • Read about subjects that interest you. If you’re interested in animal welfare, for example, read books and articles exploring the subject. If you’re interested in art, check out a book from your library about art and art history.
    • Focus on things that you not only joy but feel inspired by. When engaging in your passions, you should feel good about yourself.
    • When you find something that you’re really passionate about, do your best to keep that spark alive. Don’t allow the outside world to take away your enthusiasm and your excitement. X Expert Source Rachel Clissold
      Certified Life Coach
      Expert Interview. 26 August 2020.
    • Write down a list of people you admire. These can be people you know personally or public figures. What do you admire about these people? Why?
    • If your house was on fire, what three objects would you bring? The objects you value show a lot about what value as a person.
    • What issues do you get most excited talking about? What would you change about your community? What was the most fulfilling moment of your life? Why?
    • Look over your answers when you’re done. Are there any common themes you notice? Look for common beliefs and principles in your answers. You can use these to get a sense of your personal values.4 Identify your personal values. If you’re trying to find meaning, it’s important to identify a set of values for yourself. Keep in mind these values may change with time or experience. Do not think of them as unchanging rules but rather loose guidelines you can explore throughout the course of your life. There are a variety of questions you can ask yourself to help you figure out your values.

Part 2 :Connecting with the World

  • 1 Foster close relationships with friends and family members. Having positive relationships with others is important to living a meaningful life. Try to build positive, meaningful relationships with people who support you and build you up, like your friends and family. X Expert Source Rachel Clissold
    Certified Life Coach
    Expert Interview. 26 August 2020.
    • Prioritize connecting with others. Make time with your friends on weekends. Try to e-mail and text your friends throughout the day. Work on building close relationships. You learn a lot about yourself through how you engage with people around you. X Research source
    • Take time each week to connect with friends and family members. Ask your parents about having a weekly family game night. Make a point of getting together with your friends for a movie on Saturday nights. Feeling close to people is a matter of spending time together frequently. X Research source
    • Talk to your friends and family members. Share stories. Talk about your week and how you’re feeling. Ask others how they are feeling and genuinely listen to the answers. Share tastes in music, books, and television. You can learn a lot about yourself and your values through talking to others. X Research source
    • Teamwork can help with getting close to your family. Engaging in activities that require you and your family to work together can foster positive feelings. Cook dinner with your siblings. Clean the garage or do other yard work together as a family. Working together can help you and your family grow close. X Research source
  • 2 Make new friends. In addition to getting close to existing contacts, try to meet new people. You can learn a lot by having a diverse range of friends and contacts. Reach out and meet new people.
    • Go to events where you’re likely to meet others. Go to a concern, poetry reading, art show, or other event that feels interesting to you. Go alone as this will give you an opportunity to meet others. X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources. Go to source
    • You can also find new people by doing things like volunteering, taking on a part-time job, or joining a club or organization. X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources. Go to source
    • Connecting to people means showing interest in them. When trying to meet new people, ask questions. Ask people where they’re from, what they’re interested in, and other ice-breaking topics. Having genuine interest is a great way to make new friends. X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources. Go to source
    • Pay attention when others talk. Take in what’s being expressed to you. Little things, like remembering someone’s taste in music, will be impressive later on. You can also learn a lot about yourself, and discover meaning and values, by listening to others. X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources. Go to source
  • 3 Generate confidence. Self-expression is a great way to connect with the world. Your life will feel more meaningful if you make an effort to express yourself and your emotions. Work on building your confidence. This can help you express yourself easier.
    • Voice what you feel using “I” statements. This shows that you’re asserting your own opinion and beliefs rather than objective truths. You’ll be able to voice how you feel to others in a direct, honest manner. For example, say something like, “I feel that giving back to your community is important” or “I feel happy when I’m helping others.” X Research source
    • Fear of rejection often hampers self-expression. Avoid fear by learning not to personalize rejection or setbacks. If your friend did not want to go to the beach with you on Saturday do not jump to the conclusion she dislikes you. Instead, consider the possibility your friend is busy with work or school. Also, in any given situations provide yourself with multiple options. If Plan A falls through, there’s always Plan B. For example, invite a handful of friends to the beach on Saturday. If one backs out, you’ll have others to rely on that day. X Research source
    • Be authentic. Express how you feel and pursue things that interest you. Try painting, writing, drawing, dancing, or other creative outlets to channel your inner emotions and convey them to others. X Research source
    • Be willing to try anything once. Taste foods you’ve never had before. Go see a band that your friend likes, even if that musical genre isn’t your style. Try new physical endeavors. Go snowboarding, surfing, skiing, or anything else new and exciting. Taking risks and exploring your tastes and boundaries will help you find a more meaningful life. X Research source
    • Seek out what you want. If you’re interested in someone romantically, ask them out. If you want to learn a new language, ask your parents for permission to take a class trip abroad. Do not let fear dominate you. Try new things, even if they’re scary. You will not regret it in the long run. X Research source 4 Try new things. Part of finding the meaning in life is rooted in being brave. Trying new things, and being open to new experiences, is what helps us discover meaning.

Part 3:Making Lifestyle Changes

  • 1 Set goals . If you want to make your life matter, you need to focus on meaningful accomplishments. Set goals for yourself, based on your passions and wants, and work towards these goals.
    • Set specific goals that push you towards meaningful pursuits. For example, don’t set a goal like, “I’m going to protect the environment.” Focus on the specifics on how you might do this. For example, “I’m going to use my bike more and recycle cans and bottles.” X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
    • Write down your goals to help yourself stay on task. X Expert Source Rachel Clissold
      Certified Life Coach
      Expert Interview. 26 August 2020.
    • Repeat your goals to yourself when you get discouraged. Read your lists of personal goals each morning if you’re having an off week. This can help you remind yourself why your goals are important and push you to work harder. X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
  • 2 Live with compassion. Compassion is key to leading a meaningful life. If you want to influence those around you in a meaningful way, try to develop a sense of empathy for others.
    • Pay attention to the body language of those around you. This can give you insight into their emotions. Watch people’s facial expression and how they carry themselves. Someone who’s slumped over and frowning, for example, might be angry or sad. X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
    • Listen to people when they talk. It can be helpful to repeat what a person says in your own words when he or she finishes talking. This can assure that you’re completely understanding these person’s emotions. Ask people how they feel or how they’re doing and make an effort to genuinely listen to their answer. X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
    • Remember to be compassionate toward yourself, as well. Love and accept yourself for who you are. Also, while you should accept ownership for any mistakes you’ve made, don’t judge yourself harshly or beat yourself up for them. X Expert Source Rachel Clissold
      Certified Life Coach
      Expert Interview. 26 August 2020.
    • Be kind throughout the day. If you hear someone gossiping about another person, do not engage. Imagine how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of gossip. This can help you avoid the temptation to join in. X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
    • Emotions can vary in intensity. You may feel a little sad, for example, if you see a dead bird on the sidewalk. You may feel very sad if you get a bad grade on a test you worked hard on. Emotions, however, are temporary. They come and go with time and circumstance. X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
    • No emotions are inherently bad. However, how you express them matters. For example, you should yell at your mother if you did poorly on an exam. It can be helpful to talk about your emotions with those you’re close to. This way, you get negative feelings out of your head and this can help you not lash out when you’re upset. X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
    • Regulating your emotions is important to living a meaningful life. If you want to do good in the world, you have to take care of yourself as well as others. Work on fostering an awareness of your own emotions and expressing them in appropriate ways.3 Be aware of your own emotions. In addition to being aware of others emotions, try to be aware of your own. Be aware of how you’re feeling and how you can regulate those feelings in a positive manner.

Part 4 :Giving Back

  • 1 Volunteer. Volunteering can be a great way to feel your life has meaning. Try giving back to your community through service to organizations that are important to you.
    • Helping others is related to life satisfaction. Those that help others on a regular basis tend to feel happier and more fulfilled. X Research source
    • Ask your parents about how you can get involved in your community. If you’re under 18, you may need parental permission when volunteering. If your parents volunteer anywhere, you may be able to offer your assistance. For example, if your parents work for a local political party, you could join them on days they’re working on do small tasks around the office.
  • 2 Pay attention to the needs of those around you. Giving back does not just mean donating your time to charity. You should also work to be kind to those around you. This can help you feel your life matters as you’ll have a positive impact on friends and family members.
    • Ask people about their needs. If your friend is sad because his pet cat just died, ask what you can do to help. Sometimes, something as simple as listening goes a long way. X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
    • Be interested in others. Do not be nosy or insincere, but show genuine interest in the passions of those around you. Ask your friends about their hobbies and interests.
  • 3 Cultivate gratitude. Your life will feel more meaningful if you make an effort to feel grateful for what you have. Try to be thankful for what you have in life.
    • Try to write down three things each day you’re grateful for. These can be broad things, like nature, or specific things, like a good friend of yours. X Expert Source Rachel Clissold
      Certified Life Coach
      Expert Interview. 26 August 2020.
    • Practice rituals that allow you express gratitude. You can say thanks before a meal, for example, or think about what you’re thankful for each night before bed. X Trustworthy Source TeensHealth Website run by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system, for the purpose of providing teens and young adults with specific health resources Go to source
  • 4 Explore your spirituality. Youth can be a great time to explore religion and spirituality. While you may have taken on your parents moral and faith during adolescence, use your youth as an opportunity to explore faith on your own.
    • Learn about various religious and spiritual traditions. You could read up on a variety of faiths at your local library. Read the religious texts and doctrines of religions and spiritual belief systems across the world. See if anything stands out to you as particularly meaningful or moving.
    • Talk to local religious leaders. Attend religious ceremonies from a variety religious denominations. See what you connect with personally.
    • Keep in mind not everyone feels a personal need for religion. You may explore various religious faiths only to find religion is not necessary to make your life meaningful. This is fine as well. The goal here is to find something that you connect with given your personal values