The Power of Meaning - Deepstash
The Power of Meaning

The Power of Meaning

Emily Esfahani Smith

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<p>It's easy to go through lif...

It's easy to go through life with a general feeling of “blah."

Repetitive work and not enough social contact can make anyone's daily humdrum feel shallow and devoid of meaning.

Little do we realize that nowadays, we tend to isolate ourselves in our work and look inward rather than outward to try and find meaning.

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After Reading These Stashes...

After Reading These Stashes...

you will learn about The Four Pillars Of Meaning and why they're important .

Purpose in creating these Stashes:

✓ to help people honor the Four Pillars of Meaning to live a fulfilling life

✓ to help people discover themselves deeply

✓ to help people maintain a constant communication with their loved ones & others, search for their purpose in life, relate with other people's storytellings, and engage in transcendence

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ROY BAUMEISTER

Having a meaningful life is far more fulfilling than having a happy one.

ROY BAUMEISTER

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Focus On The Four Pillars Of Meaning

Focus On The Four Pillars Of Meaning

In order to start your journey toward living a more meaningful life, you should maintain these four pillars of meaning: belonging, purpose, storytelling and transcendence. These categories constantly reemerge whenever people describe what makes their lives meaningful.

It has been argued that meaning arises from belonging, having a purpose related to contributing to something larger, making sense of the world and your experiences and connecting with something greater than yourself.

By keeping these four pillars in mind, meaning can be discovered in both fresh and unexpected places.

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First Pillar: Sense Of BELONGING

First Pillar: Sense Of BELONGING

The last time you went out for dinner, were people busy texting and Instagramming on their phones? If the answer is yes, that's no surprise - people are so preoccupied with technology nowadays that they've forgotten the importance of connecting with those around them.

Individualism contradicts our NEED TO BELONG since having a sense of belonging is essential to human life.

The rise in individualism and isolation seems to be a major contributing factor as to why many people feel that they have a lack of meaning in their lives.

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Fundamentally, it's a human need to feel a sense of belonging either in relation to another person or a community. However, in modern society, many people live very isolated lives.

Back in 1945, the psychoanalyst René Spitz found that mortality rates in orphanages were unusually high because, ironically, children were often deprived of human contact in order to prevent the spread of germs and diseases. Through his research into the matter, Spitz was the first to identify that a lack of belonging can result in death.

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Modern-day researchers have discovered the scientific reasoning behind this: chronic loneliness can compromise the immune system, which can lead to premature death.

That's why it's so important to honor belonging, the first pillar of meaning. Surveys often conclude that people consider close relationships to be critical sources of meaning, and research often shows that those who are lonely consider their lives less meaningful.

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By focusing on your relationships with others, you can begin to make your life more meaningful. This doesn't only apply to intimate or profound relationships. Even the relationship that's formed when you smile at a stranger on the street is vital to fostering a wider sense of belonging in society.

So, to find meaning in your life, try to reach out and connect with others around you.

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Second Pillar: PURPOSE

Second Pillar: PURPOSE

Purpose is found through self-reflection and helping others.

Have you ever considered what your purpose in life is?

Before you panic about the gravity of such a question, you should realize that purpose as a concept doesn't need to be so intense.

When you think about your purpose, simply consider it to be the strengths and opportunities that you possess, with which you can help others.

The developmental psychologist William Damon believes that your purpose should be a far-reaching goal that involves some kind of contribution to the wider world.

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Don't worry - this doesn't mean that to have a purpose you have to attend every activist event in your city. As long as you have a goal and a make a meaningful contribution, you could live purposefully as a zookeeper or a parent.

Zookeepers, for instance, feel that they have a duty to fulfill by helping animals live better lives; therefore, they have a purpose and consider their lives to be meaningful. An individual with a sense of purpose isn't concerned with personal benefits, but cares more about how to benefit others.

So, by making your work about helping others, you'll discover a purpose.

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A survey involving 2 million participants found that those who considered their jobs to be meaningful were involved in careers such as English teachers, radiation therapists, school administrators and other roles that involved serving others.

If your job doesn't directly involve serving others, you don't have to drastically change your career. Instead, focus on the ways in which your work affects other people. In other words, switching your focus to how your work affects others can give your job more purpose, and thus make your life more meaningful

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Third Pillar: STORYTELLING

Third Pillar: STORYTELLING

Through storytelling, we create coherence and fresh interpretations.

You may think of yourself as a more reserved person who doesn't really enjoy being the center of attention in conversations. But guess what: You're still a natural storyteller. In fact, everyone's a storyteller - each person crafts their own life story.

As such, storytelling is the third pillar of meaning: it refers to the way people create stories from their own different life experiences. Humans feel compelled to tell stories, as this is how people make sense of the world.

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Individuals create meaning from telling their life stories to other people in a certain way.

Psychologist Dan McAdam has been studying the concept of life stories and meaning for over 30 years. He believes that a person's narrative identity, or the story that they create about themselves, is constructed by focusing on the most significant events that have taken place in their life and interpreting them in numerous ways.

From his research, McAdam found that those who tell redemptive stories about their lives, or stories that transition from bad to good, often tend to live more meaningful lives.

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In order to generate meaning through storytelling, it's best to reflect on how an important event has shaped who you are and the course of your life. The process of doing so is what academics refer to as counterfactual thinking. This is when you engage in “what-if" questions such as, "what if I hadn't gone to college?"

Research has shown that counterfactual thinking can make people appreciate the benefits of the path they have taken, as they're forced to think about how their lives would've panned out had that pivotal event not happened.

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EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH

"Stories help us make sense of the world and our place in it, and understand why things happen the way they do."

EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH

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Fourth Pillar: TRANSCENDENCE

Fourth Pillar: TRANSCENDENCE

Have you ever looked up at the stars at night and realized that you are just a tiny part of a large whole? Well, then you've experienced transcendence.

Transcendence can help dissolve the barriers between yourself and the world around you.

This is the fourth pillar of meaning, and it's all about experiencing a higher reality in which everything is interconnected.

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Psychologist William James describes the mystical experience of transcendence as being uncontrollable, lasting no more than a few hours and not entirely possible to put into words. But transcendence has the power to reveal truths that will remain with you.

Another psychologist, David Yaden, believes that during transcendent states, a person feels connected to everything that surrounds them. It is in this moment that a person loses any sense of anxiety, feels complete peace and optimal well-being and derives meaning in life.

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When you're in a transcendent state of mind, the barriers between yourself and the wider world around you dissolve. Oddly, you experience a paradox in which you feel connected to a higher power but also feel extremely insignificant at the same time.

This self-loss, as it were, is sometimes called ego-death and it's a means of mentally preparing an individual for the final loss of self, which is death.

For most people, the thought of death is a terrifying prospect. But for the individuals who have already experienced ego-death, death now seems like a new beginning.

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Buddhists tend to illustrate this outlook on death with the example of a cloud. If you think about the life cycle of a cloud, it doesn't perish when it disappears from the sky. The cloud simply changes shape into rain, which transforms into grass, and grass into cows and milk, and then the milk into the ice cream we eat.

Transcendence serves the purpose of making people feel that everything is interconnected and that they will always exist in the universe in one form or another. It is a state of mind that gives meaning to life.

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You don't have to travel the world, end world hunger or quit your job to live a meaningful life. You can find fulfillment by guiding your everyday life in accordance with the four pillars of meaning: belonging, purpose, storytelling and transcendence.

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CURATED BY

genz_advocate

The Purpose Driven Gen Z Advocate & Digital Catalyst who helps Businesses and People Skyrocket in Life by Transcending the Conventional.

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