Finding Your 'Pillar Of Meaning' Could Be The Key to Lasting Mental Health - Deepstash

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Meaning Of Life

Meaning Of Life

  • That oft-quoted “meaning of life” question might be a little more critical than you’d think.
  • What is the meaning of life? Whether you’re an angst-ridden philosophy major or a parent approaching that midlife crisis, most of us have — at some point or another — asked ourselves some variation of this question.

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Meaning, Happiness And Joy

Meaning, Happiness And Joy

  • Meaning allows us to find a reason to continue on, even when life is difficult. And a lack of meaning and purpose, is contributing to our increasing rates of suicide, depression, and loneliness.
  • Happiness, on the other hand, is a fleeting emotion. While it’s wonderful to experience, it isn’t what ultimately sustains us.
  • Though, joy does tend to emerge as a side effect when you’ve located your sense of purpose.

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The 4 Pillars of Meaning

The 4 Pillars of Meaning

In her book, “The Power of Meaning.” author and journalist Emily Esfahani Smith divides the quest for meaning into 4 pillars:

  1. Belonging,
  2. Purpose,
  3. Storytelling, and
  4. Transcendence.

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Belonging

Belonging

  • Belonging defines a connection to a larger community.
  • Forging and sustaining relationships is how we increase this connection, which in turn makes our lives feel meaningful.
  • If this is your pillar of meaning, your connections with others are a primary source of meaning.
  • As a part of her interview process, Smith asks respondents what makes their life meaningful. She found that the first thing [people] always list are relationships.
  • Belonging as a general principle is up there for most people.

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Purpose

Purpose

  • Purpose is defined by long-term goals that give us a sense of accomplishment.
  • Purpose, for many, can be found in their children, their work, or a passionate hobby.
  • Purpose allows us to have something to work toward and work for.
  • If this is your pillar, having a long-term vision for your life imbues it with meaning.

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Storytelling

Storytelling

  • Storytelling is building meaning through your own personal narrative and reflections.
  • Understanding our place within the world, as well as our impact on those around us, is what creates a strong sense of identity.
  • If this is your pillar, you likely find meaning in defining and reflecting on who you are.

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Transcendence

Transcendence

  • Transcendence is based on connection to something bigger than one’s self.
  • Transcendence can be tied to spirituality, nature, or historical ties.
  • Those who prioritize transcendence as a pillar tend to feel awakened in experiences that make them feel connected to something bigger than themselves. 

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One’s Primary Pillar of Meaning May Change Throughout Life

One’s Primary Pillar of Meaning May Change Throughout Life

  • Tip: On her website, Smith provides a quiz that helps you find your primary pillar of meaning.
  • Smith also notes that one’s primary pillar of meaning may change throughout different stages of life.
  • Smith states, “[For] emerging young adults, purpose again is important because you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life.”

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Finding Meaning is Impactful To Mental Health

Finding Meaning is Impactful To Mental Health

  • The mental health impact can be significant. Meaning-making can even be used as a crisis intervention tactic.
  • In pursuing research for her book, Smith came across meaning-centered psychotherapy, also known as logotherapy.
  • Logotherapy practitioners work with people who are experiencing depression, suicidal ideation, or both.
  • This therapeutic practice is also useful for those who are terminally ill or have substance use disorders.
  • It seeks to provide them with meaning to stabilize the existentialism brought on by these conditions.

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Pillars Of Meaning Can Aid Different Demographics

Pillars Of Meaning Can Aid Different Demographics

  • Smith recalls a time she spoke to a Black religious leader in Louisville, Kentucky: “He was talking about stories younger African Americans were telling themselves, drawing from cultural scripts that were holding them back. He wanted to key them into this great, long history that they have.”
  • Descendants of the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade notoriously have difficulty tracing their ancestry. This leader was able to restore a sense of meaning in younger folks by teaching them about the great Black history American textbooks omit.

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Culture Of Meaning

Culture Of Meaning

  • Cultures of meaning encourage folks to seek out purpose, storytelling, belonging, or transcendence.
  • Cultures of meaning look like The Future Project, in which adults work as “Dream Directors” in schools to guide adolescents toward lifelong goals.
  • They help them map out the steps to pursue those goals, therefore leading them toward a purpose.
  • Finding your own pillar of meaning can give you guidance toward the direction your life can take.
  • Meaning gives you a big-picture outlook on life, and life is long. Why not work toward something special?

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THE ASPEN INSTITUTE’S WEAVE PROJECT

As humans, we long for honest, deep connection. Weavers make the effort to build those connections and make others feel valued.

THE ASPEN INSTITUTE’S WEAVE PROJECT

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CURATED BY

dymphna

Lawyer turned Artist Visionary Curator & Gallerist. Empowering self-love and joy through art & words. www.innerjoyart.com 💝 Instagram : dymphna.art

CURATOR'S NOTE

Meaning of life, a life of meaning... Interesting insight to living a purposeful life.

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