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Living a Meaningful Life in Challenging Times

By S. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican

Today, many people are stopping to think about what makes one’s life meaningful, especially when they are faced with great difficulties. This is a challenging time for many individuals and families as they struggle to meet their family’s needs, keep their homes, and provide an education for their children. How can they approach these challenges with hope and meaning?

This question is open to various interpretations. As people reflect on it, they discover that the answer is more than having a high paying job, the latest styles in clothes, cars or a beautiful home.

There are different answers to this question. Some examples would be: “The ability to put food on our table for the family;” “to appreciate all the blessings that I enjoy every day;”  “to do some foreign travel and get to know people of other cultures;” “to have a reliance on God’s presence and power to see us through any difficulty;” and many more. In the United States, many are in love with all of the beautiful things in life such as riches, fancy homes, and accumulating far more resources than needed, while others are barely able to obtain the basic necessities for their everyday lives. This often leads to anxiety, greed, and lack of focus or direction in a person’s life.

So what qualities would make a meaningful life?

  • A holistic view of life; one that leads to health of body, mind, and spirit
  • A positive outlook on life — even in hard times
  • A reliance on the power and presence of God which never fails
  • Leaving a legacy to those who will come after them­­ ­­— a legacy not just of material goods but of good values that others can emulate  
  • A sense of gratitude in everyday life for all the blessings people enjoy even in the midst of difficulty
  • Care and compassion offered to those in need
  • The example of a good ethical life lived in peace and hope
  • Close friendships and care among family, friends, and communities
  • A willingness to speak out against injustice and wrongs when people become aware of them
  • To teach alternatives to violence, such as conflict resolution, and a refusal to carry grudges that could erupt into violence

Families and communities can work together to create a more peaceful and sustainable future for themselves and generations to come. No effort is too small to make a difference in our world. People of every age can learn to live with hope and meaning. We need to listen to the whispering of the Spirit within our own minds and hearts and choose to live values that will lead to hope and meaning.