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9 tips for living a meaningful life

Maria Shriver discusses what a meaningful life looks like for her: religion, family and forgiveness all play a role.

by Robert Powell / / Source: TODAY
Maria Shriver on TODAYZach Pagano/TODAY

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What does a purposeful life look like to you? That's a question NBC News special anchor Maria Shriver is addressing in her new book, "I've Been Thinking... Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life."

For Shriver, a meaningful life is complicated. Religion and her Catholic faith play a big role, as does her family — the lessons her parents taught her and what she hopes to instill in her four children.

Here are nine of her tips for a full life, but she has a lot more in her book. What is part of your meaningful life? Let us know by sharing on Facebook!

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1. Find your inner strength.

Shriver refers to this as "intestinal fortitude," and uses it when talking about people who are calm in a storm and have a strong stable energy that others want to be around.

2. Embrace the ability to shift gears.

Life doesn't always go to plan, as we all know. Shriver reflected on how she and friends and family have had to recreate their lives at points. It's OK to step into the unknown. Take on the challenge to create a new life, priorities and identity for yourself.

"I am hoping that this book will help people understand that the journey is uncertain, and that they'll be OK," Shriver said on TODAY.

3. Make your home a place of peace.

We all need a place to unwind and feel safe. For Shriver, that place is her home. She recommends focusing on good values in your home: acceptance, honesty, joy, laughter and community.

4. Practice gratitude.

Research has found that practicing gratitude on a daily basis makes us happier, healthier and more hopeful. Shriver starts each day by thanking God for the gifts she has and by surrounding herself with people who also practice gratitude.

If you're not sure how to bring this practice into your life, she advocates starting a daily gratitude practice: Write down what you're grateful for, reflect on what you wrote and carry that gratitude into your day.

5. Hit pause sometimes.

We are all busy, busy, busy! Most people rarely take breaks or vacations, but Shriver stresses the importance of hitting pause. Schedule time with your loved ones and give back to your community and those less fortunate to you. Consider hitting pause in your day-to-day decisions, too.

Think before you react, spread rumors or pass judgment.

6. Forgive.

It takes time: Be patient and kind with yourself. According to Shriver, the power of forgiveness comes when you let go of feeling like a victim.

7. When life throws you a curve ball, swing the bat.

In other words, address the crisis head on. Don't avoid it.

How did Shriver recreate her own life? "By wondering who am I now?" she told Hoda Kotb. "Doing that exact thing and finding books that helped me navigate and finding quotes that inspired me."

8. Stop complaining.

We all complain, but Shriver put an end to that: She set up a no-complaint zone in her home and office. Instead she focuses on the good stuff.

9. Focus on your brain instead of your body.

We are a nation obsessed with appearances. Yet, Shriver encourages all of us to take better care of our brains.

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