That is all.
What, you wanted more?
Okay, I’m kidding...I’ll explain. Giving your life more meaning is much simpler than you think. Yes, there are people out there searching for a higher purpose or greater meaning by taking spiritual quests or asking spiritual leaders, but there is a much more provable science to how and why humans find their lives meaningful. While there is nothing wrong with searching the world or inside yourself for the meaning you’re looking for, there’s also a way to create more meaning in your life. So let’s explore the science so you can understand why “caring” is the one simple act that will give your life a greater sense of meaning.
For those who are unfamiliar with the core concepts of The Meaning of Life, they are (in one sentence) that you choose to grow through experience in the areas where you desire and believe you can with the ethics and support necessary to maximize the outcome and help you feel fulfilled. In this understanding of how one derives meaning:
If you work on developing those eight concepts in your life, you’ll find more meaning in your life. If you find a new growth area that ignites your passion, for example, you’ll have more meaning and purpose. If you help others or receive emotional support, you’ll feel better. If you believe your life has meaning, it’ll have meaning. It’s all based on evolutionary biology and psychology where these components are necessary for optimal growth and so are the ones that help you decide whether your life has meaning.
So, you might be thinking, if there are eight things, then how can you create meaning with just one simple act? Well, “meaning” in the context of life can have several definitions: the point of life, the definition of life, and the significance of life being a few of them. While “growth” satisfies all three definitions, there’s an interesting way in which you can “hack” your perspective of your life. And it is just by doing the one simple act of caring.
What is caring? Caring is simply the act of deeming something significant enough to focus your time, effort, attention, focus, or thoughts on it. Now, you might have natural preferences, such as caring about your family or liking pizza because your biology is equipped to survive and those things help you to do that. However, you are also capable of advanced thought and analysis, so you can deliberately choose to care about things, such as caring about being on time for work or caring about who wins the World Series. There’s nothing really forcing you to have interest in those things, but you have thought about your job or your local baseball team and decided that they are important enough to you where you place significance on your punctuality or the outcome of the game. So it’s your choice to care that gives it significance to you.
You might be seeing where this is going, but let’s be explicit about it, anyway: by looking at your life or something within it and choosing to care about it, you are deeming it significant. You are placing importance on a specific thing in your life and desire positive outcomes in that area. As a result, you instantaneously create two forms of “meaning” as we defined them above: you give something significance, and you place value on a specific outcome (i.e., “point”). So you immediately create more meaning in your life by caring...but it also affects the eight core components of meaning. You desire more for it. You want the best for it. You establish ethics to improve it or protect it. You find others with the same interest to join you in your passion. You make choices to focus on it more. You feel good when good things happen in that area and feel bad when bad things happen (vs. being indifferent if you don’t care). The simple act of caring triggers changes in the eight drivers of meaning, and that’s why it’s the one simple act that can change everything for you.
So if you’ve been searching your whole life for meaning, you have just seen that meaning is something you can create just as much as it is something you can find. All you have to do is care. Care, and you will create more meaning in your life.