As I have gotten older, I find that I look for the meaning in life experiences. I don’t always know what this means, but I find it in my human nature to invest in things that have meaning and then to understand the meaning of the investment. These thoughts can drive me absolutely crazy some days.
For example…We meet people. Why? Well, we are human, and humans connect, but I then question myself, does that person bring meaning to my life. Do I bring meaning to their life. What do I mean to them. What is our purpose. I just go on and on… I guess living through the death of a parent, truly opened my eyes up to what I meant to people. I had great friends, a great social life and then my mom got sick….then she died. Where did those people go that I meant so much to? Well, it’s been a year, and I still to this day haven’t seen them nor been invited to social events. So, in the reality of it all, when I was good, not depressed and wasn’t going though a really shitty time in my life, I meant something. When I hit a depression and was in a black hole and I meant nothing. This truly opened my life to so much more than I anticipated.
As I apply the concept to find an answer to the big existential question, “what is the meaning of life”; rather, it is the search for meaning in your own life that is most important. Meaning comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it looms big in our life; sometimes it slips and is almost unobserved. In short, meaning is different for everyone—there is no one right answer—there is only the answer that is right for you.
We all came into this world pretty damn clueless. As children we expected life to be sunny, people are nice to each other and we learned pretty quickly that life is a lot different. We become accustomed to the stress, hurt, worry, things being hard at times and we rarely find the time to sit down and evaluate why we are where we are. We forget to search for the meaning. Meaning always exists and therefore can be found in the everyday moments of our lives, so there doesn’t have to be just one answer to the question on how to find it. However, it’s up to us to detect the meaning of the experiences we have each day. Meaning, in other words, can be found even in situations that do not bring us happiness or power.
It is important to define the concept of meaning. Some people define meaning in terms of feeling that your life matters, while others define meaning in terms of extending beyond yourself to serve something bigger than yourself. A higher power.
Meaning comes with being “who” we are in this world. When you believe something is meaningful, it is because it resonates with your true nature or core essence. When you believe something lacks meaning or is meaningless, it is because it does not resonate with your true nature or core essence.
It is important to understand how meaning can infiltrate and therefore affect many parts of our lives on a daily basis. Fundamentally, we believe that meaning should be at the core of all that we do daily. In order to live a complete life, we must understand what brings us meaning to our lives and what drains meaning from our lives. This helps drive our purpose.
When we know this, all things become clearer. We come to know and feel more confident in our decisions and direction, and we also notice more energy flowing to and through us to others. In other words, we are no longer working against the flow of who we really are. I may not understand or know the meaning of a few things in my life today, but until they bring me no positive energy, I am willing to wait and find out.
It is an ongoing process to find meaning and it is a non-stop process as each day brings new experiences. For me, to find meaning gives me purpose. I workout, so my purpose was to motivate others. I found meaning in helping others with a passion I held so closely. My passion and meaning steamed from watching my mom live an unhealthy life that lead to her death. It was an awful experience, but that awful gave me purpose and meaning not only for myself, but to help others. I was fortunate that even though my mom was sick, she found meaning to live. Her life was full of unconditional love, watching her own kids and her grand-kids live life, which all gave her meaning and the purpose to fight pretty damn hard.
The greatest challenge we face in life is to discover and embrace the process in which gives us meaning. We look away when it hurts and things are not the way we expected them to be. We tend to look at what we expected versus the true meaning of what happened.
Know that each day has a meaning and each day you mean something to someone. Being a teacher, I know my meaning. Being a Mom, I know my meaning. Being a fitness coach, I know I have meaning to many I am their motivator. All of this gives me drive and purpose. Find your drive and purpose and you will know your meaning behind those core values.
Becky Shaffer—firstname.lastname@example.org—Life Coach—Educator