Meaning is perhaps the most important aspect of one’s happy, fulfilled life. Without having a purpose or a meaning, what is the source of motivation and lasting success? For thriving is not about that one moment of glory but about happiness in the long run, and as research into the Blue Zones shows, also benefits longevity.
So have you ever asked yourself what were you meant to do in this life? Even better, have you felt it? Feelings can confuse but also bring us closer to the truth, our inner version of it at least. Are you genuinely connected to your essential self?
Yet, if you do what you were meant to do in this life, you do not need to ask this question. You just flow, thrive and trust yourself. You might not be well off financially, but you may be the well of creativity, wisdom and happiness.
Still, without a keel, the boat cannot sail for long. There may be wind forcing it forward (external motivation), a skill needed to take it (learned through practice), yet without the balance supporting the frame, the trunk of you (internal motivation), you won’t succeed in there race of life.
Incongruity rots your integrity. Rusty poses and smiles take their toll over time.
Unclear meaning of life fogs one’s path. You can get easily lost in that noisy obscurity.
Your heart-core satisfaction, your growth potential towards lasting happiness, and thus success beyond measure depend on you, solely and only on you.
The artist Miguel Rothshield quoting W. Shakespeare as his muse in the universal starlight piece above (and the video of it I made below) reminded me that ‘meant’ doesn’t mean shedding all responsibilities, right the reverse: “The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves, that were underlinings”. Once again creative, theatrical wisdom took both, my heart and my brain by their tails!
Miguel Rothshield and Shakespeare alert on the importance of connectivity and our individual responsibility for our success or failure. It is not fortune or destiny written in stone that drives our purpose. It is the deep connection with ourselves.
Your ‘Connected’ Life
Meaning does not just walk in without your heart, or If I may dare – the soul. I will explain myself now. Some words just blend into one meaning. There is that physical pump pushing oxygenated blood through the vessels out into the organs and our limbs. But there is also that metaphorical heart that humanity has used ad memoriam. Yet this emotional, even metaphysical meaning of the heart touches us deeper than just the physical, machine-like function keeping human life on the go. The soul may be just a metaphysical well and psychological concept, but we cannot escape the self in our existence. We may not accept this part of the Cambridge dictionary definition “the spiritual part of a person that some people believe continues to exist in some form after their body has died”, yet we cannot deny “the part of a person that is not physical and experiences deep feelings and emotions”.
Like the mind, the soul is likely connected with the body. We already know that stress and other emotions affect the wellbeing of our physical body. The realm of psycho-somatic health problems has been expanding with more measuring tools at our disposal. The ancients spoke cross-culturally of the mind—body—soul alignment as the ultimate achievements of a spiritual being. It goes beyond the spiritual though, and surely the religious pathways. How comes that so many atheist intellectuals meditate? Even Einstein was puzzled and gave into the force of nature and the universe.
The work by Latin American artist Thomas Saraceno is often exhibited in NYC. He is one of the leading contemporary conceptual and visual artists. This video is the part of the Web series.
How we feel, how energetic or exhausted both in our body and the mind affect our experience of daily life. It may seem as if I strayed a bit here off the theme, but I did not. For being connected with your meaning is to be tuned into your soul. Where else would purpose come from? If it were dictated by some outer source then we would be robotic, unfree tools of someone who knows how to manipulate us. Connected therefore means free. Within — with oneself; as well as externally with others, nature, the universe. Hence, if you feel the connection then you have a meaning. Further, the more separated we get, the further lost we are. The soul home resides within us. Once we understand, accept, embrace and love ourselves, we will never be lost again. The web starts from you and it is all about love.
I just read the bestselling fantasy book The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, where after a surreal journey “in-between” lives, the leading character Nora learns a very contemporary lesson: “You could eat at the finest restaurants, you could partake in every sensual pleasure, you could soak up whole thunderstorms of applause, you could travel to the ends of the Earth, you could be followed by millions on the internet, you could win Olympic medals, but this was all meaningless without love in your root life.” That love is not just romantic, butterfly excitement of meeting your kindred soul, but also your love of nature, yourself, life, family, and indeed someone who loves you back. That most reliable lover is yourself. For as everyone dies your attachment to them is vulnerable. What matters is that you love yourself until you perish.
Love is as much an attitude as it is an emotion. We must let the light in. I wrote more on this in my past musing and a few poems, but here I would like to quote Matt Haig again: “She had to try harder. She had to want the life she always thought she didn’t, the future was unwritten, a blank page”. Life consists of days and nights spent doing, thinking and resting. Therefore, what you fill each moment with is the sentence, page, leading to a chapter in the book of your entire life.
If you resent what you are doing it is perhaps because you do not love yourself enough and see no meaning in it, therefore your attitude is sour and not joyful. You do more harm in ‘helping’ with a sour face, bitter attitude and negative energy. Even for a helper who chose to do charity work, if meaning is not connected with love, it is not a genuine feeling and your connection is broken.
Love and meaning increase their potential when shared. For example if I compose songs, play instruments, listen to music, I may feel calm, uplifted, focused, connected with myself and perhaps something higher, unexplainable, but unless I share my work of joy with others, that selfish devouring of pleasure won’t last. It will not fulfilled you over time. There is a limit. But, when you share your meaning through lyrics, the tone of your guitar, piano, and a voice, then love works magic. The rockstar Lenny Krawitz coined it in his latest (I believe) album “Let Love Rule“. This is not a hippie slogan or a devotional cocktail of nativity and faith, but a gravitational pull of greater lives lived.
Finding what brings you joy is quite simple. For some it sparks in youth, for others it takes decades to reveals, but the rick is to become aware of all those activities that make you feel, genuinely and in a long term good. For one it is gardening, another savers the adventure of sailing, climbing mountains, composing poetry, challenging oneself physically, mentally or growing spiritually, discovering and researching, chatting with the locals at the cashier of your grocery store or the farmers market, …
Go back to your school years. What subjects were like a feather floating in a breezy afternoon? What just felt natural, doing as if it were the utmost expression of you? Perhaps this talent or its alternatives is exactly what you meant to do.
Matt Haig contemplates: “Is happiness the aim? Success isn’t something you can measure, and life isn’t a race you can win.” And his heroine confesses with her brimming heart: “I want my life to mean something – to do something good.” So find that activity that makes your heart swell with love, your mind so focused that you forget time, and your life more than just worth living. Do not expect any gains from that, just you being happy and content.