Did you know there’s a secret to living a meaningful life? Not a cheap trick or dubious shortcut, but a surefire, honest-to-God method for finding fulfillment?

Below are two brief stories about people who found ways to fill their days with meaning. See if you can read between the lines and figure out “the secret” to their success.

Rosalin’s story

Formerly a stay-at-home mother, Rosalin has now been an empty-nester for nearly a decade. The first few years after her children moved out were rough. With no messes to clean, no schedules to manage and no dinners to coordinate, Rosalin lost her sense of purpose. What was the point of all this newfound free time without needy kids around to fill it?


Eventually, Rosalin rediscovered her sense of purpose in the most humble of places: her backyard garden. She only dabbled in the hobby at first—planting a few herbs and spices she could later use for her cooking. Soon, however, her passion outgrew her oregano and sage until she was tending to robust rows of gourds, bushels of flowers and even exotic cacti. Now, every time Rosalin steps into her thriving, vibrant garden, her mind is at peace and her heart is full.

Janette’s tale

As a surgeon, Janette’s life was filled with pride. Every time she suited up for an operation, she knew her patients were about to put their very lives into her hands. That trust and responsibility were everything to Janette.


But when arthritis began to rob Janette’s hands of their skill, her life suddenly felt empty and pointless. She fell into a deep depression until one day—out of sheer boredom more than anything else—she volunteered at a community kitchen serving lunch to people without consistent income or housing.


Surprisingly, she left the community kitchen feeling as fulfilled as when she used to walk away from a successful surgery. The gratitude people had shown for her simple act of service filled Janette with a joy she had not felt since her days in the operating room. Today, Janette runs a successful not-for-profit and her life has more meaning than ever before.

The secret revealed

Were you able to connect the dots in these two stories to reveal “the secret” to a meaningful life? It’s very simple, but it eludes so many people.


Meaning isn’t something we receive. It’s something we give. Whether it’s being a good mother, a skilled surgeon or devoting oneself to a hobby or a cause, meaning comes from seeing and feeling the impact our efforts create. That impact can be as simple as tending to a sprout or as complex as starting a charity. Such details will differ depending on the person, but “the secret” itself is universal.


So, the next time you’re feeling like your life lacks meaning, don’t ask, “How do I get it?” Instead ask, “How can I give it?” The ideas you come up with in response to that question will set you on the path to fulfillment, guaranteed.

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