Research shows finding meaning in one’s work supports overall well-being and ameliorates the impacts of burnout and compassion fatigue, common maladies affecting physicians. Psychologists propose that a meaningful life incorporates these primary elements:
- Significance: The belief that what one does matters.
- Coherence: The perception that life makes sense.
- Purpose: The commitment to positive goals greater than one’s self-interest.
These elements can be cultivated through intentional effort, including the following:
- Significance: Find meaning and beauty in lived experiences. This is cultivated through quality time with loved ones, creative expression, mindfulness, practicing gratitude and any positive activity you find meaningful.
- Coherence: When existence seems chaotic or nonsensical, reconnecting with the natural world restores the feeling that life makes sense, that it has order and reliable rhythms. Consider engaging in “forest bathing,” a full sensory immersion in nature.
- Purpose: Clarify your core values and reflect on how they are expressed and lived through your work. A purpose-driven life provides a “why” to live for that allows us to remain resilient in the face of taxing circumstances.