Let’s get serious for a moment and talk about life itself. After all, even though there’s no consensus on what the meaning of life is (we like to think it involves love and kindness and lots of cat videos), we all think about it, right? Some days you feel fulfilled and purposeful, and some days you wonder why you’re here. One day you’re absolutely killing it, and the next, you’re full of doubt and big questions. Well, it turns out you may have the answers to those questions already, and they’re actually pretty darn easy to unlock.
Scientific American reports that researchers and psychologists at the University of Missouri have tested the way people find meaning in patterns and order — a concept known as coherence. These researchers tested coherence by showing their subjects different pictures of trees, some in random order and some in a seasonal pattern. They filled out a questionnaire afterwards, and their answers revealed that those who recognized the pattern found life more meaningful. Another test was done with groupings of words that were either random or semantically related, with similar results.
So how does coherence work in your everyday life? Well, it’s that exactly — what you do every day. The researchers surveyed their subjects on their daily routines and found that those who do “pretty much the same things every day” find life more meaningful.
It’s a pretty surprising outcome, isn’t it? We hear so much advice about being spontaneous and shaking things up that maybe we take our boring old habits for granted. The researchers even administered controls for mindfulness, positivity and religiousness, yet the subjects still found meaning in the seemingly mundane. Scientific American suggests that finding order and purpose in day-to-day tasks “lays the groundwork for the pursuit of larger goals.” A more coherent life leads to a greater chance of answering the tough questions about purpose, significance and life itself.
All it takes is a few baby steps to enlightenment. We’re more than up for that challenge!
What do you think? Do you find more meaning in life when you’ve stuck to your schedule? Share your routine in the comments!