Meaning matters Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Saturday, 11 December 2021 10:32
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We’re entering the silly season, a time of year dreaded by many, because it triggers emotions we might not like to experience. We’re bombarded by memories of past holidays and feelings that, right now, life might not be the way we would like it to be.

Maybe you’re missing your family or maybe you’re trying to get away from family. Maybe you’re looking forward to a break, but won’t be going away on holiday. Maybe you’re wondering how to fill your free time with meaning, so that a year from now you could look back on memories made, not on meaninglessness. Maybe you’re wondering whether something that may ultimately prove meaningful may feel anything but meaningful in the doing.

GK Chesterton writes that meaninglessness “does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure.”  Therapist Eric Maisel says that humans aren’t trained to notice and name fleeting moments as meaningful. For example, we might spend an afternoon walking the back streets of a small town “wearing a smile on our face because something has been stirred in us but nevertheless not credit that afternoon as a meaningful moment.”

“We had the experience but we did not know to label it as such or to credit it as such. For this reason, the majority of these real-life moments passes by unnoticed and do not get credit.”

How you interpret meaning matters profoundly. Do you see it as something outside of yourself that must be tracked down? Or, do you see it as a subjective experience, “that it sometimes comes unbidden and that it can also be coaxed into existence, and that when it is absent you must try to create it rather than try to search for it?”

“It should go without saying that what sort of idea you hold about meaning matters a great deal, in fact, it completely dictates how you will live your life and how you will experience life,” Eric says.

If you feel that meaning can be created, you will also believe that meaning can be repaired; that meaningfulness is a wellspring and a renewable resource. If you don’t believe this but you’d like to, you might find that it is seriously challenging to transcend your habits and repetitive thoughts.

The secret, says Christy Whitman, is to realize that every thought you think generates either positive or negative momentum. To prove this to yourself, repeat the following: “Life is hard.” “I never attain my goals.” Or, “I’m not as far along as I should be.” Then notice what happens to your energy. 

Now say, “All is well.” “Things are always working out for me.” “I’ve succeeded many times before.” Or “I love myself as I am.” Notice the difference?

Christy says that every thought you think generates momentum – either in the direction of something wanted or something unwanted. With each thought, you are choosing whether you create positive momentum or downward spirals. 

So it is with each word you speak. Watching your words is one of the most immediate ways to change what is going on inside you. “It is as simple as choosing to speak of situations in a way that makes you feel better, not worse. It’s choosing to state things in a way that expands and encourages you, rather than brings you down.”

From an energetic perspective, there is a huge difference between saying “I can’t afford it” and “I’m choosing something else right now” or “This is not a priority for me at the moment”. The last two acknowledge that you have a choice – it opens you up. The first is an announcement of lack, which constricts you and paints you as a victim of life.

Yet, the December holidays prove to be the very time so many of us take a nose-dive into victimhood. There’s something about seasonal jingles that facilitates a time warp, a sort of feedback loop to Christmases past. But this year we’re going to focus on the present.

Your presence will be the best Christmas present – not just for your loved ones, but for yourself. Let’s not allow the real-life meaningful moments to pass by unnoticed. Let’s learn how to use the right words, how to label a fleeting second’s true significance because, as Walt Whitman writes, “Happiness, not in another place but this place . . . not for another hour, but this hour.” You either define the moment, girlfriend, or the moment will define you.

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