Meaning is the ultimate balance between the chaos of transformation and possibility and the discipline of pristine order, whose purpose is to produce out of the attendant chaos a new order that will be even more immaculate, and capable of bringing forth a still more balanced and productive chaos and order. Meaning is the way, the path of life more abundant, the place you live when you are guided by Love and speaking Truth and when nothing you want or could possibly want takes any precedence over that.Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life
The world puts great emphasis on the pursuit of happiness. We are told to do what makes us happy, to surround ourselves with people who make us happy, and to find love with the person who makes us the happiest.
Oftentimes, the pursuit of happiness is nothing other than an attempt to fill some void. What good does happiness do if something else that’s far more important than it is missing? How, then, can it be enjoyed?
The void is a lack of meaning – a lack of concrete purpose that remains through every season we find ourselves in. We fail in our pursuits of happiness because we weigh it in what is expedient: good times that never stay long enough, imperfect people, and our imperfect selves.
The meaning described in the quote above is never-ending. You are capable of growing indefinitely when you muster up the courage to take a step into the unknown, all the while using the tools you have from what is tried and true to help you navigate. As your knowledge expands, so does the realm of possibility as they continuously balance each other. That is meaning.
Previously, we discussed how this can be achieved through understanding, awareness, connection, and patience. Understanding derives knowledge from every encounter. Awareness provides intentionality and consciousness to the way you navigate life. Connection grounds you in the activities and people you appreciate most in life. And finally, patience is the sustenance, knowing you will make the most of the time you have now while you wait for good down the road.
These values and others have stood the test of time, and for good reason. Part of meaningful living is taking into account the lives that came before ours and learning from their successes and failures. Human experience has its share of overlap, and our shared understanding provides order.
Related: Seven Thoughts on Meaningful Living (Pt. 1)
The wonderful thing about meaning is its individuality. Life may follow a general sequence, but it’s far from bland when it’s happening to you. Take birthdays for example. They are exciting when they’re ours or someone we love’s, and just arbitrary dates to other people. The same applies to any other regular occurrence in life. Life is meaningful because it’s yours.
Your life takes on the most meaning when you act with your individuality in mind. What can you, and only you, create from the unknown? What limits can you expand with your ingenuity? Who could you benefit? Most importantly, who will you become in the pursuit of all this?
Being creative is ingrained into our human nature. From a biblical perspective, part of being made in the image of God is being able to create things that wouldn’t otherwise be. We combine ingenuity with the resources around us to expand beyond our limits.
There are two different segments of creativity. The first is using creative expression to make something beautiful, whether that be in the form of art, food, home atmosphere, or music. It’s taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary by adding your own creative flourish.
Creativity can also be applied to your thinking. No one else in the world has your individual experiences, and therefore, your exact perspectives. What sets your perspectives apart from that of other people is the creativity in your thought.
Thinking creatively doesn’t mean completely abstract theorizing. It means using your unique knowledge and experiences to create solutions, not stopping at the first answer you think of, but thinking deeper. You take difficulty into consideration and try to minimize it. You also consider if one solution may be the answer to multiple problems, and which solution will produce the most long-term good.
Creativity in both forms contributes to what is good. Whether you choose to put emphasis on creating beautiful things to bring people joy or diligently seek solutions, you will offer value to the world that no one else can.
You have something only you can offer to the world.
This applies universally, to every person on earth. We each have a purpose, most of which is unbeknownst to us, that we will fulfill.
Your story plays into a much bigger one. Nothing that happens to you is insignificant. The minute you realize how much you contribute is the minute your life gains significant meaning.
You have countless opportunities to give to this world, especially concerning other people. Your friends, family, colleagues, customers, and even passers-by can be positively or negatively impacted by you. You play a part in a world that extends far beyond you.
The extent of your contribution depends far more on your character than any spontaneous acts of kindness. Living by your values and constantly seeking growth will develop the strength of character needed to navigate a meaningful life.
A good way to test your strength of character is to ask yourself how likely you’d be to do what’s best for yourself and others amid adversity. Unfortunate things happen to us all, and we can always count on that. Will you let that fuel selfish decisions or act discerningly despite your hardship?
The people who contribute the most are always cognisant of the character they’re creating. They’re deeply aware of their actions and the effects they have, and adjust where there’s room for improvement. They don’t strive for perfection, just intentional, sustainable betterment.
If you want to contribute greatly with your life, you need to focus on your own strength of character. It will serve you and others well when life inevitably stirs up a storm.
The definition of confidence as it relates to self is the “belief in the effectiveness of one’s own abilities or in one’s favorable acceptance by others.” This kind of attitude toward self is the result of living meaningfully.
Self-confidence expands your view of yourself beyond the blunders you make and insecurities you have. You’re aware of when you struggle and have the strength to do something about it. Confidence fuels change through new perspectives and action to accompany them.
The mindset portion of confidence is a choice to change your perspective to improve your quality of life. You can view yourself as an accumulation of faults or as someone worth helping, and that change alone can make a tremendous difference in how you act.
Related: Balancing Personal Independence and Companionship
Confident living is a daily choice. What order can you build from the unknown in this day? Some days that may be as simple as accomplishing a step in a looming project. Or it may be having a much-needed conversation, trying a new recipe, booking a flight, quieting your mind for a minute, learning a few words in a foreign language, solving a complex problem, or giving something your complete focus for a half hour. It’s the gradual pushing past limitations that lead to extraordinary accomplishment over time. All it takes is a little dose of daily courage.
Confidence is not dependent upon success. Any time you venture into the unknown there is risk involved. You might fail. In fact, it’s probable. As someone who has feared failure in the past and still does at times, I know confidence can end where mistakes begin. The only real failures, though, are the mistakes not learned from. As long as you pick yourself up, take a few mental notes, and trek onward, failure cannot hurt you. Confidence will follow suit.
What brings meaning to life? Conscious action and appreciation for the moment you’re in.
As you go throughout your day, ask yourself what decisions would align you with your purpose and pursue them. Push beyond your comfort zone to grow in your capability and confidence. Take time to appreciate the journey while you align yourself with something higher. Meaning won’t pass you by.
Until next time,
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