25 Examples of Meaningful Experiences

(Riverside Cap Company, 2017)

If you’re thinking that you’d love to encounter more meaning in your life but you’re not sure where to look, you’re probably already thinking about it too much! Meaning can be found in every single encounter and interaction that we have.

However, if you’re like me (i.e., the kind of person who appreciates lists), check out these lists of some of the most meaningful experiences in life.

Positive Experiences

Meaningful, positive experiences can be found in many different contexts, but some of the most common and impactful experiences include:

  • Falling in love
  • The birth of a child
  • The birth of a grandchild
  • A reconciliation or reunion with a loved one
  • Immersing yourself in a new culture or way of life
  • The first time you make a big, life-altering decision for yourself
  • Showing someone the depth of your feelings for them, or receiving this expression of feelings

Although the big ones are likely the ones your mind went to first, meaning can also be found in many of the small moments in life, such as:

  • A child taking your hand for the first time, or giving you a completely voluntary and enthusiastic hug
  • Running into a friend you haven’t seen in a while
  • Experiencing a new culture on a vacation or humanitarian trip
  • A loved one expressing their gratitude for you
  • Coming home to a happy, loving pet
  • Quitting something that makes you unhappy
  • Enjoying some unexpected time alone
  • Realizing you’ve mastered a difficult skill
  • Hopping in the car for a spontaneous road trip (“9 Meaningful Moments”, 2014)
  • Remember to pause and look for meaning in moments big and small. It’s so often the little moments that we remember for years after we experience them.

Negative Experiences

While we’d all love to maximize our positive experiences and avoid the negative ones, that would lead to incredibly unbalanced people! It is often during these negative, stressful, and challenging times that we find out where our strengths lie, how to push further than we have ever pushed before, and how to truly thrive.

Some of the significant negative experiences that can lead to profound meaning include:

  • The death of a loved one
  • Divorce, separation, or another break in a relationship
  • Loss of a job (getting fired or laid off)
  • Natural disaster (e.g., flood, fire, avalanche)
  • Becoming the victim of a crime
  • Suffering Trauma (e.g., soldiers in combat or witnesses of extreme violence)
  • Near-death experiences
  • Sustaining serious injuries
  • Getting diagnosed with cancer or a debilitating disease

For all of these experiences, you have probably heard at least one or two stories about someone finding meaning in their trauma or stress.

Meaning is an intensely personal thing, and we all find it in different places and in different forms.

“For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day, and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.” – Viktor Frankl

What is The Meaning of Life?

Although we look for specific answers, it seems that the meaning of life is different to each and every one of us.

We may find ultimate meaning in the love of a spouse or a child.

We may find it in the work that we do.

We may discover that volunteering and giving back in our community is the activity that gives our life the most meaning.

Wherever we find purpose and fulfillment, it seems that it is truly up to us to tease out that which is the most important, the most life-giving, and the most significant. Within this soup of values, experiences, goals, and beliefs, we can piece together that which gives us the best sense of meaning in our own lives.

I have three referrals:

1.) For more positive psychology talk and an expanded version of this information, visit positivepsychologyprogram.com

2.) If you haven’t already, checkout/rent/buy “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. Marcus Aurelius was famous for his stoic philosophy, that has helped many find peace within themselves and a calm mind.

Meditations contains twelve books, each composed of several quotations ranging from one sentence to lengthy paragraphs. While these writings were never intended to be published and distributed to the masses, they are still full of some of the most interesting and thought-provoking ideas to ever be put on paper.

Throughout, Marcus Aurelius discusses a different point of view on life, philosophy, religion, virtue, morality, amongst others. It is not a scholarly read, nor is it a quick pdf, but it is worth the effort.

3.) If you’re looking for more information regarding building an active life outdoor and mental health, visit ACTIVATE today and look for the adventure log.

Meaning is one of the few things that you simply cannot over-consume; having a more meaningful life is always a worthwhile pursuit, and you can never become too fulfilled or too full of purpose!

I hope as we all wake up and strive to better ourselves daily, that we find out what our purpose and meaning is. There is nothing to compare it to. What’s yours is your own and what’s mine is mine. I leave you with this question:

What do you find personally meaningful in your life?

If you’re looking to build your poetry and writing career, consider joining the Poetry & Author Community of A Writers Business.

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Jonathan Printers Jr., LMSW, CSWA, MA

Psychotherapist | I/O Psychology | Star Wars (IG @modern.therapist) | Psychology & Motivation: https://activateofficial.substack.com