How Idealists can find Meaning in their Lives

The primary aspiration of all Idealists (Spontaneous Idealists, Dreamy Idealists, Harmony-seeking Idealists and Engaged Idealists) is self-discovery and self-actualization. If you are an Idealist, life represents one continuous search for a deeper meaning: Who am I? Where am I going? What is my destiny? This already describes the most important pillar of your personal concept of happiness: The meaning of life!

Positive psychology research proves that for all people finding the answer to the existential question “what am I living for?” is a very significant building block for happiness. Still, for no personality type this building block is as central as for the Idealists. They need the feeling that their presence in this world somehow makes a positive difference. When the final curtain falls, it may not be irrelevant whether they walked this earth, or not. In order to achieve permanent happiness Idealists must do justice to this profound inner need for a meaning.
The problem Idealists sometimes have regarding this topic is the concrete realization of that which they resolved to do with their life. Like all personality types with a theoretical preference, by their nature Idealists are very good at developing objectives and visions. However, when the time has come to initiate the necessary steps to their realization, things look different.

So as not to get stuck in dreams and plans but put substance to your aspirations you should learn to turn vague wishes into precise objectives. That works really well with the so-called SMART-formula. Here each letter stands for an important characteristic of the objective.

Exercise: Don’t dream your life but live your dream!

S = specific
Identify your objective as precisely as possible. «I want to do good» is too squishy. On the other hand «As of now I am going to volunteer each week for two hours at the local animal shelter» is precise.

M = measurable
Objectives are only helpful when they are measurable. «An hour per week», or «ten hours each month» are clearly verifiable targets – on the other hand «I am going to be more active in sports» is not.

A = affirmative, action oriented
Phrase your objective with a positive principal sentence (Affirmation). Not: «I’m going to eat less meat», but « I’m going to eat vegetarian four times a week. » Finally, subdivide your objective into required action steps. Which specific tasks do you have to tackle for its completion?

R = realistic
Is the objective actually achievable within the perimeters of your personal capabilities and resources? «I am going to stop the hunger in the world» may be tough, on the other hand «I am going to sponsor a child in the Third World» is certainly manageable for many.

T = terminated
Finally, you have to set a clear target for the point in time by which you want to have accomplished your objective, and - just as importantly – for the point in time when you are going to start. Sometimes it is also as helpful as it is necessary to establish dates for the sub goals on the road to the final objective.

And while we are on the subject of volunteering: If you can get excited about a volunteer job, you’ll do something for your overall happiness on two accounts. Research has clearly demonstrated that volunteering does not just create happiness but also benefits your health and increases life expectancy.

The tendency of all Idealists to a certain spirituality is an intricate part of their need for a meaningful life. This does not necessarily imply religion in its traditional form, although the classic religions of the world appeal to many Idealists, as well. Fundamentally most of them are rather more driven by the general need for transcendence that includes their search for higher powers and a greater whole that encompasses all Being and Doing. You should also pay attention to this spiritual component of your personality type and find your very personal answers to the question about the big picture. Numerous psychological studies prove that people who have found a form of believing in a greater whole for themselves are generally happier than unbelievers. For you this insight is even more important than for most of the other personality types: This longing for the absolute, the divine is a vital part of your being that you should not ignore.

Maybe you have already gained access to a form of spirituality that makes you feel good. In that case I can only encourage you to continue carefully cultivating it. On the other hand you may have dealt with this subject only tangentially or not at all. In that case and to get you started I would like to suggest a simple exercise without religious overtones. Performing it regularly for two or three weeks is going to have an immediate impact on your perception of happiness.

Exercise: Morning-and Evening Ritual

Begin each day with immediately going to the window upon getting up, opening the shutters or curtains or the window itself and consciously welcome the new day as a gift. Doing that, pause for a moment and bring the fact to mind that waking up today should not be taken for granted. Breathe deeply a couple of times and appreciate the opportunities that this special day has in store for you. Acknowledge its uniqueness, preciousness and irretrievability.

End each day with taking a break before going to bed and letting the day pass in review before your inner eye. The joy today brought you, some positive surprise causing you to smile or laugh, maybe something that even made you happy? Every little detail counts: the sun was shining while rain was in the forecast, a colleague complimented you, you took successfully care of a task you had undertaken. Note all these little happiness moments down in a «Sunshine Diary» especially reserved for them.

For you the Idealist the existential prerequisites for happiness are discovering your personal vision of life, surrendering to that, which extends beyond your being and – associated with it – the development of your spirituality.