"Creating meaning involves bringing order to the contents of the mind by integrating one's actions into a unified flow experience. People who find their lives meaningful usually have a goal that is challenging enough to take up all their energies, a goal that can give significance to their lives. We may refer to this process as achieving purpose. To experience flow one must set goals for one's actions: to win a game, to make friends with a person, to accomplish something in a certain way. The goal in itself is usually not important; what matters is that it focuses a person's attention and involves it in an achievable, enjoyable activity. In a similar way, some people are able to bring the sharp focus to their psychic energy throughout the entirety of their lives. The unrelated goals of the separate flow activities merge into an all-encompassing set of challenges that gives purpose to everything a person does. There are very different ways to establish this directionality. Napoleon devoted his life, and in the process gladly led to death hundreds of thousands of French soldiers, to the single-minded pursuit of power. Mother Teresa has invested all her energies to help the helpless, because her life has been given purpose by an unconditional love based on the belief in God, in a spiritual order beyond the reach of her senses.
From a purely psychological point of view, Napoleon and Mother Teresa may both have achieved equal levels of inner purpose, and therefor of optimal experience. The obvious differences between them prompt a broader ethical question: What have the consequences of these two ways of giving meaning to life been? We might conclude that Napoleon brought chaos to thousands of lives, whereas Mother Teresa reduced the entropy in the consciousness of many. But here we will not try to pass judgement on the objective value of the actions; we will be concerned instead with the more modest task of describing the subjective order that a unified purpose brings to individual consciousness. In this sense the answer to the old riddle "What is the meaning of life?" turns out to be astonishingly simple. The meaning of life is meaning: whatever it is, wherever it comes from, a unified purpose is what gives meaning to life.
The second sense of the word meaning refers to the expression of intentionality. And this sense is also appropriate to the issue of how to create meaning by transforming all life into a flow activity. It is not enough to find a purpose that unifies one's goals; one must also carry through and meet its challenges. The purpose must result in strivings; intent has to be translated into action. We may call this resolution in the pursuit of one's goals. What counts is not so much whether a person actually achieves what she has set out do; rather, it matters whether effort has been expended to reach the goal, instead of being diffused or wasted. Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it. "He who desires but acts not", wrote Blake with his accustomed vigor, "breeds pestilence."
The third and final way in which life acquires meaning is the result of the previous two steps. When an important goal is pursued with resolution, and all one's varied activities fit together into a unified flow experience, the result is that harmony is brought to consciousness. Someone who knows his desires and works with purpose to achieve them is a person whose feelings, thoughts, and actions are congruent with one another, and is therefor a person who has achieved inner harmony. Someone who is in harmony no matter what he does, no matter what is happening to him, knows that his psychic energy is not being wasted on doubt, regret, guilt, and fear, but is always usefully employed. Inner congruence ultimately leads to that inner strength and serenity we admire in people who seem to have come to terms with themselves.
Purpose, resolution, and harmony unify life and give it meaning by transforming it into a seamless flow experience. Whoever achieves this state will never really lack anything else. A person whose consciousness is so ordered need not fear unexpected events , or even death. Every living moment will make sense, and most of it will be enjoyable."

 

Flow - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi