8 Types of People Who Don't Find Life Meaningful
While I hope that you are living a happy, fulfilling, meaningful life, it is possible that you are not. In either case, an effective way to ensure that you can get or stay on the right path is by looking at the most common reasons why people might not feel a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Hopefully, learning from others struggles can make your life easier and more fulfilling.
Below are eight examples of people who may not find meaning in their lives, including their situations and reasons for not finding meaning:
- People who have lived comfortable lives without much struggle – This is what is causing what I call the “crisis of meaning” in many developed countries. So many well-meaning parents are overprotecting their children to the point where they don’t have to exert any effort to get anything they want in life. While being well-off definitely has its perks, people who have never had to work for anything have also never felt the sense of happiness, meaning, and fulfillment in creating something, in working hard to attain a goal, or to take a risk and finally see it pay off. It is not a surprise that people with these lives are very susceptible to drugs, unprotected sex, and other activities—the number one reason cited for these behaviors is “boredom”. People who have had to work hard to achieve goals feel much more meaning than those who haven’t.
- People who haven’t adopted a strong ethical code – People who live ethically understand the reward in hard work, helping others, doing the right thing, and succeeding in the right way. People who lie, cheat, steal, etc. will more than likely not see the point in anything because they believe that either people are terrible and don’t matter or it’s not worth doing the right thing because the wrong thing is “easier” (it looks easier, but I assure you that it is not). You need more than an ethical code for meaning, but it’s hard to find anything you do in life meaningful if you know you attained it in the wrong way (i.e., at someone else’s expense).
- People who lack drive and motivation – Without something to shoot for, there’s no reason to do anything: get up in the morning, do your chores, etc. People without a goal/set of goals and a strong desire to work toward them will, by definition, feel lost, listless, and see no purpose to anything.
- People who don’t believe in anything other than trivial, temporary pleasures – People who live life for the next “high”—whatever it might be: drugs, food, sex, etc.—without a belief that they can and are working toward something greater for themselves and the people they care about will not find much meaning in anything. I mean, how can life have meaning if you don’t believe it does? If you believe it’s meaningless, no amount of evidence that anyone could show would ever prove you otherwise since meaning is completely subjective. I can’t say, “We landed a man on the moon, therefore life is meaningful,” and you magically see the significance of life now. You’ll just believe that it’s a simple thing with no point. But when you realize/believe that the point was in an of itself the amazing experiences of building a space shuttle, getting it out of the atmosphere, getting to fly into zero-gravity space, landing on the moon, jumping around like a child, collecting rocks, and coming back, you’ll get that life is amazing and gives you the opportunity to do a million things before it’s over.
- People who don’t have a good support system – People who have others who care about them have a much greater sense of meaning than those who don’t. It brings much greater happiness when you have someone to be proud of your accomplishments, to share in your joy, to bring you back up when you’re down, etc.
- People who don’t have responsibility – This is similar to the first bullet in that not having to work hard and not having responsibility are very similar, but the difference here is if you’ve never been responsible for someone else, you’ve never felt real purpose. Sure, you can neglect yourself and you’re only hurting yourself, but if you, say, had a child land at your doorstep and you had to take care of it, whatever meaninglessness you felt and cynicism you had about the world would immediately disappear. You have one goal, one purpose: to take care of that child. Otherwise, it will die. Responsibility by definition gives you purpose, and people without it have a luxury of not having a burden but also miss out on the meaning and fulfillment that managing those responsibilities successfully brings.
- People who suppress their feelings – You should be allowed to feel good and listen to what your feelings are telling you when you feel bad. If you try to bottle them up, you will tire, be worse off psychologically, and possibly become numb or depressed, leading you to wonder why your life is meaningless (it’s not—it just feels that way because you feel either nothing or hopelessness).
- People who haven’t found what they want to do with their lives – People who are miserable with the majority of their life experiences are not having the right experiences. Alternatively, if they like their experiences but don’t have a goal or don’t like the experiences and are working toward a goal they don’t care much about, then they’re going to be in trouble. So, you need to make sure you find experiences in life that you do enjoy. Nothing leads to a feeling of meaninglessness more than living a never-ending series of boring or miserable experiences.
Unfortunately, the fact is that many people aren't feeling a sense of meaning and fulfillment in their lives because they fit into the above (or similar) categories. However, the good news is that it is possible to find a meaning in life when you aren't seeing one now. To find meaning, you just need to identify growth areas where you want to improve, choose to partake in experiences that will get you there, believe you can get there and will be happy when you’re there, take the journey without hurting anyone else, and get/give help along the way. It’s that simple to find meaning, and it’s as certain as math or physics that this approach works because it’s the exact set of components that cause humans to find their lives meaningful.
If you have run into the above or other circumstances and are looking for purpose in life, best of luck to you on your search. The above list hopefully will help you as you think through why you might be in your current situation, what is causing it, and what you can do to get out of it. Note that there is nothing necessarily wrong with being in those situations; you might just be struggling to find meaning in them for the reasons highlighted above.