This year, I’ve been reflecting on the idea of “meaning.”
I’ve read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, as have many who are interested in what makes humans tick, and I reread it again a few months ago.
During this reflective period, I’ve been feeling terribly unsettled by what felt like a missing meaning.
I really feel like I’ve lost my mojo. I even flirted with the idea that I was having a proper midlife crisis.
One day, I asked myself: “Can a person ‘fake’ having a ‘meaning’? You know, fake it until it sticks?”
But…what does having a “meaning” to make life “meaningful”…mean? (Yeah, you know how I like to get meta!)
This short blog series describes my current thinking about meaning.
It might or might not help you select a meaning to guide your life. It may or may not help you fake meaning if you’re in an “in between” period, like me.
You know, it’s mostly me talking out loud with you, which feels meaningful in itself.
These blogs are not meant to be definitive. Instead, they’re meant to be playful. You can let these blogs spark a conversation inside yourself or with others.
As I see it today, the sources of a life’s meaning might be sorted into:
Perspective Category 1: Time-Based Life of Meaning
Some people discover meaning in how they relate to time.
There are those who are focused mostly on the past.
Some who are happily encamped in the present moment.
And yet others who cast their vision to the future.
A past focus is considering what happened. Family history, social history, the way things used to be, the shame of the past, the glory of the past. Ah, yes, remember that?
Past can inform meaning because it might give people a reason to rise above. It can be the meaning for not changing or claiming different possibilities.
I had a strong past focus early in adulthood. I was all about getting out of my painful history into somewhere better.
The past can be fuel. The past can be a trap. For those with a past focus, “what was” is the reason for, the meaning behind, what is and what will be done.
Present focus is here. Now. What happened and what will happen is less meaningful than what’s taking place today.
To be honest, as I play with this concept, I find the idea of being driven by the present to be so unusual as to be unrelatable. I wonder what it would be like to be a person whose life’s meaning is centered in being completely present. (If this is you, share a comment to let me know how this looks for you!)
Finally, if you’re a time-based meaning person, you might have a future focus.
I admit that, in the past, I’ve been attracted to people messaging about the future. I’ve even dabbled in their teachings for myself.
Who will I be in the future? What will the future be? Will my actions have a ripple effect in the future?
The future can be a very compelling source of meaning, very passionate. People with a strong meaning base in “the future” seem to have a sense of being very in control of their lives.
Consider for yourself if you are moved into certain mental states, feelings, and/or actions when your life is meaningful because of time.
- Do you think about your history as a reason to do/avoid doing certain things? (past)
- Do you find your greatest meaning in what you are doing each moment? (present)
- Do you imagine your legacy and impact, and is that a reason for what you choose to do with your time and energy? (future)
Enjoy the exploration. Up next is a pondering of meaning through self. P.S. I invite you to fall in love with the “Less Stress, More Fun” podcast. Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes offer smart, fun ideas to reduce stress and boost your sense of playfulness.