I was having an awesome conversation with the General Manager of People of an organisation last week, and we were talking about simplifying the idea of wellness or wellbeing. These are two very hackneyed, overused, and diluted words these days, and it is harder and harder to work out what they really mean, and how to achieve glorious wellbeing. I explained to him that I was a footballer beaten around the head, so I need to keep things simple myself. I said, in my mind, the foundation of all wellbeing is meaning.

Okay, what does that mean? I hear you asking. Before I give you my thoughts on this, I want to share about myself and ask you a couple of questions. There have been times in my life when I have felt quite rudderless and lost. Have you ever been there? There have been times in my life when I was getting up every day, going to work, with no real enthusiasm, or passion. Have you ever experienced that? In those times, when I felt I had no real direction or passion for life, I was often stressed and anxious. Do you relate? I would then make decisions I knew were not the best for my mental, emotional, or physical wellbeing, for the purpose of self-medicating and distracting me from a life I didn’t love. Have you ever done that?

Watching television is a great distraction but will stop you in many ways. Drinking alcohol is a wonderful way to temporarily hide from reality, but it will negatively impact all areas of your life. Making food choices that will give some momentary pleasure may cause long-term harm. We often make choices and do things we know are not good for our wellbeing, yet we do them anyway. Why? Because maybe there is no compelling reason not to do them. In my mind, and in my life, the secret to making better choices lies not in knowing what is right or wrong, because I do. It is in finding meaning in your life. The foundations of all the choices we make is meaning.

When we feel lost, alone, rudderless, and confused, we are far more likely to do things that compromise ourselves, our lives, and the people we care about most. When there is some meaning in life, then automatically we will start to make the choices we know we should always be making. Therefore, the question is, how do we find meaning in life? If you are really interested in digging deeper into this essential area of life, I recommend the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. As I have only a few more paragraphs left in this blog to help you start the journey, if you haven’t already, I will keep it simple.

For me, there was a moment. In that moment, I found my meaning. Up until that time, I thought it was about achievement, ambition, accumulation, admiration, and validation. I was wrong. How do I know I was wrong? I played 7-years of professional sport, developed an impressive physique, owned a successful business, and had written and published a book. Even with all that ‘achievement’ I still felt empty, anxious, and searching for something that was missing. The moment came when I received an email from a man from Perth who I had never met, and still have never met. He had read my book and told me how much it had impacted him, and how he had used the information to change his life.

Wow! I thought at that time, I am changing people’s lives. The feeling of joy immersed my body and from that time, from the moment I get out of bed each day until I lay my head to go to sleep, it is my meaning in life to have a positive impact on others. With every word I speak, write, record, and put out to the world, it is my mission for it to land in the life of someone who needs it. This may just be an interaction with a friend, an acquaintance, or even someone I walk past in the street. It has been a joyful meaning for me for many years. I am not perfect, and still slip up at times, however I have direction in my life. Now here is the point. Because my life means something to me, I want to be healthier. I automatically make better food choices, get up to exercise each day, even when I don’t feel like it, and am very conscious of every decision I make every day. I want to be around as long as I can to impact lives. This meaning in my life is the foundation of my wellbeing, and my joyful existence.

What makes you smile, and I mean really smile? What lights you up? Who and what do you love most? What are the values you believe are most important for you? Who do you love spending time with? What positive impact on other people do you enjoy having? As you ponder those questions, can you think of ways to bring them to life every single day? These things give your life meaning and the more you focus on them and look for ways to experience them, the more meaning you will have. It may just be about being a great parent, or doing your job as well as you can, knowing that it is making someone’s life better. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be true for you.

In my podcast this week called Right now, I speak with Dr Heather Browne about finding joy and meaning in the very moment you are in, right now. I know you want to be happy and feel important. I know you want to feel like life has some meaning. Trust me, it does, and when you identify what it is for you, every other decision you make will move you to be happier, healthier, and more able to keep living a life with meaning. Make no mistake, meaning is the foundation to a happy, healthy, and abundant life.