By Art Lewis
When you look at how we are living today, with our hectic schedules and stressed out lives, it’s easy to see that life has lost much of its charm and meaning. Often we are doing jobs we have little connection with, or we are in unsatisfying relationships that are not of our choosing. We might ask ourselves, “What or whose dream are we chasing?” We may have more money than we know how to spend but, for the most part, we lead meaningless lives. This is because we are looking for that meaning outside ourselves and have become lost in the process. To transform we must reconnect with meaning itself.
Consider this striking quote by Joseph Campbell, which made me stop and think:
“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It’s a waste to be asking the question when we are the answer.”
We are the meaning we are looking for! We bring it to life by our authentic and genuine response to experience. We are surrounded by beauty when we stop to look and can connect to wonder when we are open to it…when we allow ourselves to just “be.” Somewhere along the way, we were taught that we weren’t “it” and we spend much of our lives trying to find what we already are…we were conditioned to look for meaning outside ourselves. The challenge is to choose to live in the moment again by shifting our attention to the truth within ourselves and our actual sensory experience.
What I am suggesting is that we start observing life again, by paying attention to the wonder that is our experience. This, in essence, is who we are. If we take this to heart we will notice how much of our time is spent on autopilot. When we stop to observe this, we are in the moment questioning our reaction, and soon enough we will notice we have a choice. We can respond in a way that is more aligned with our true values, our own meaning and our own heart.
It is such an empowering relief to know that we can relax into ourselves and whatever is going on is okay. We don’t need to change ourselves or others; we just need to be ourselves. We don’t need to know what to do; the moment takes care of itself. This is the most difficult thing for our minds to grasp, as we have been taught that somehow we need to know what to do before what we are doing actually happens. We have been taught to guard against the next moment and so the fun, spontaneity, and adventure has been taken out of experiencing. We are afraid to be present. The meaning is also missing because we can’t just bring ourselves to an experience.
We open ourselves up to meaning when we are open to a new day, a new moment.
Just like a painter with a fresh canvas and an image about to emerge or a writer expressing an idea that leaps onto the page not knowing where it came from. We express meaning when we allow our true selves to emerge without the restrictions of habitual thinking or habitual reactions. Meaning is brought about by the simple act of observing and getting out of the way of our natural creative response to the moment. Meaning and creativity go hand in hand; it is the artist in us creating our unique version of self.
Meaning is the self emerging from our experience.
Many of us now understand that the only way to resolve our environmental crisis is to leave nature alone and allow it to come back to its natural balance. In the same way we can allow ourselves to come back to balance with the simple act of observing. Observing keeps us honest. When we think we know something we have stopped observing, we have snuffed out creativity and have stifled meaning.
We can bring new meaning to each role we play in life as we find fresh ways to express ourselves. I am the father of two wonderful people now in their 30s. I have always said I have learned more through my children than from anyone. Because of them I gained new perspectives on being a father. They pushed me to observe how I was playing the role. And when I actually started to notice my reactions to them, I started to thoroughly enjoy them as individuals. I was no longer caught up in the emotional reactions I mirrored from my own father and was breathing new life into the role. It was such a relief and a blessing for me to just observe them in a new way.
My role as husband to my wonderful wife Karen is much the same. Even though we have been together for more than 39 years, every moment has new possibilities. In our roles at work, every day is an exploration of how more of ourselves can be brought to the position, whatever that position is. When we observe ourselves in the roles we play we are not lost in them and our responses come directly from what the moment requires. It is us who bring meaning to our roles and to our work.
Alan Watts suggested,
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and obvious and so simple. And yet, everyone rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something that was beyond themselves.”
It is the simple act of bare attention that brings meaning to our lives, just observing what is in front of us changes everything. It brings us back to the moment and creates a direct connection to our true selves. There is no need to look elsewhere to find meaning as we are creating it. There is no need to try to be something other than who we are in that moment.
We are the inspiration we are looking for.
Art Lewis has over 40 years of personal experience with mindfulness and meditation practices and has been helping clients make meaningful career and life choices for over 20 years. He is a certified Life Coach, a Certified Career Professional through BCCDA, and has a Counselling Certification (Holistic). Art’s greatest strength is his ability to listen without judgment, which creates moments of real clarity in which clients can access their Natural Wisdom. He believes the essence of coaching is that the answers lie within. His focus is to help re-establish your trust in your true self so you can live life to the fullest on your terms. Visit www.meaningfullifecoach.com.
This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at Amazon.com, BN.com, www.Transformation-Publishing.com and all ebook formats.