MAXIMIZING MEANING IN LIFE
GAINING MORE OF THE HIGHEST VALUE, MINIMIZING THE SUBTRACTORS
Meaning = How much you value something
Long term meaning = Something that is highly valued that is lasting and cumulative to some extent, and, in the moment, feels good.
Although we have a (bio)mechanical brain/body, just as animals do, we have the unique human ability to create meaning. And experiencing that meaning is what life is all about!
WHAT HAS THE GREATEST MEANING?
You are the one to determine what has the greatest meaning for you. Rate in terms of meaning in a relative sense, where the top ones are worth up to 10 units of meaning and something with very little meaning might be a 1. Then rank the items from most important and on down, in a separate listing, so you can see what is of most importance in your life. (I recommend that you copy and paste this into a word document and then complete it. Insert in your LifePlan and/or in your Reminders Notebook.)
__ Sex, good chemicals, feel more attached and affirmed (a good relationship over the long term is excellent)
These things feel good in the moment, but a piece is accumulated for the long term. There is value to your Self; you see value in yourself; you like what you are doing in creating good in some way.
__ Working toward what I consider as my life purpose/mission
__ Image of myself living true to my values, integrity
__ Image of myself as competent, effective, fulfilling my potential; having confidence in
myself that I will rise to the challenge and handle it and create happiness
__ Feeling of having sincerely parented and benefited one's children
__ Feeling of having been loving, supportive, and kind to a significant other
__ Feeling of having acquired wisdom
__ Feeling competent in relationships, in emotional intelligence
__ Feeling of having been "loving" and supportive and "good" to friends and close
__ Feeling that one has been responsible in life
__ Having acquired skills, mastery
__ Feeling of autonomy, "I did it my way", I lived true to what I wanted
__ Feeling of accomplishment in taking care of one's physical self
__ Feeling of competence in taking care of one's emotional self, ability to produce
__ Full self-expression
__ Pride in myself for having met challenges, exerting strength
__ Image of myself as generous and kind: doing acts of kindness consistently,
__ Good memories of experiences, such as travel, adventure
__ Good memories of experiences with people
__ Feeling of capability in relationships and/or being self-sufficient, caring, approving
__ Gratitude for having been born, the blessing of life and nature
__ Appreciation of beauty, how things work, of life
__ _______________________________________________(Add your own...)
SUBTRACTORS FROM MEANING
Of course, one can also increase the net positive meaning one has in his/her life by starting with checking off which of these subtractors one has too much of in life - as those subtractors reduce the total meaning and satisfaction in life. And, of course, you should do what it takes to eliminate them, following the relevant programs and readings on this site and other credible sources as needed for you to feel you have mastered these. In this case, rate each of these in terms of what would be the most meaningful to solve, with 10 being of the highest value to have solved or gotten rid of.
__ Lack of confidence
__ Disappointment with self
__ Disappointment, feeling bad about not taking care of my health
__ Experiencing less than good health
__ Violating my values
__ Too high expectations
__ Anger and resentment
__ Wearing a mask, pretending, putting up a front
__ Being dependent
__ Seeking approval
__ Being involved very much in distractions, such as TV, self-indulgences
__ Putting too much effort into things which I thought had meaning but when I got them they had little or none - and the effort to get them resulted in stress, such as in trying too hard or spending too much time trying to get material things, including financial success and the never ending quest for "more".
__ ______________________________________________________(You add...)
EXPERT OPINIONS AND 'TRUTH"
Aristotle believed that virtues led to happiness. And if you look at the above list of items with long term meaning, you'll notice that many of these are what comes from living a virtue. These virtues also lead to a sense of having achieved balance and moderation - essentially being a wise master of oneself. (This is a big point made also by Benjamin Franklin, involved in his quest for perfecting the 13 virtues as written about in the must-read The Autobiography Of Benjamin Franklin.)
I'm certainly not trying to preach here, as it would seem inarguable that the above is true.
IMPRINTING THE MEANING MORE DEEPLY AND LASTINGLY FOR MORE SATISFACTION
Sure you can subtly appreciate what adds meaning, but it is far more effective if you acknowledge that you have done what has added meaning. In doing so, you imprint in your brain bold neural representations of how you are living your values and adding meaning to your life such that you experience more satisfaction for the day but also so that you lock it in so that the meaning is then cumulative - so that it later is brought to mind more automatically at a higher level, because you have made it into a habit of thinking. (See One's Background Conversation Determines The Quality Of One's Life.0 It would be good to use this checklist as part of your daily review later in the day. (Copy and paste as you wish. I have copied this and put it into a separate document, which will be updated over time: My Day - In Retrospect And Perspective.)
__ Worked toward my purpose/mission in life
__ Lived true to my values, in integrity, without compromising myself to please others
__ Was responsible (and didn't blame or resent at all)
__ Valued myself and who I am
__ Took excellent care of myself, acting asap to correct feeling out of balance and/or
__ Was self-sufficient
__ Treated others with kindness and generosity
__ Treated my significant other with love and kindness
__ Benefited, contributed to others.
By doing these things:
__ Did some things effectively. Such as:
__ Exercised/expressed my strengths, talents.
__ Appreciated with gratitude some of the things in my life.
__ And for my life
__ Was a positive force for good
__ Studied and learned something of value for the long term (no matter how big or not)
__ ________________________________________________(add what you want to)
If we recognize the meaning in life on a daily basis it gives us an underlying sense of living a meaningful life, one that lasts for a lifetime and is, in itself, one of the most meaningful things to value in one's life: "Yes, I have lived a meaningful life."
BE CLEAR ON THIS
What your are working toward in your life are these meanings. Life is not about "relieving" stress, retiring into leisure, or watching TV and having cocktails, for those things soon fade into nothingness. It is about accumulating those meanings that you've identified here, so that you feel good about life and the value you've created.
This is what life is about.
Now you need to work on doing all of those things you can toward creating those meanings.
WHAT GIVES ME THE MOST MEANING
For me, at this stage of life, what gives me the most meaning is working on that which I can contribute to others, to relieve suffering and to dramatically contribute to their ability to create deep, enduring happiness and satisfaction in life. Feeling gratitude for life and for what I have done in life is deeply satisfying for me. It is important that I am living according to my values and what I espouse here, where I am actually being healthy and effective in life. And, of course, being loving and kind to others is a value I live fully, with no blame or resentment or criticism of others - I have full compassionate understanding of others and acceptance of where they are at on the path of life, without any criticism or comparison with others. I am also doing quite well in actually implementing that which I am advocating and presenting on this site and in my work - and that gives me a feeling of integrity and honor.
NOW WRITE UP YOUR OWN VERSION OF THIS
And use it to keep you focused on what reallly matters, what really means alot to you.
Read it daily for about three weeks and then weekly for a few months, as this is what your life is really about!