Creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD is a leading expert on meaning, and has written more than 30 books, including The Van Gogh Blues.
The Brain Fitness for Seniors blog has a quick summary:
1. Meaning, Identity and Purpose Are Not Fixed. They naturally shift and change throughout life. A lot of our suffering over lack of meaning is because we’re clinging to an old, outdated purpose and identity; it can be resolved by redefining ourselves in our current existence. Just because an old purpose of job or family raising is no longer relevant does not mean that life itself is no longer relevant.
2. Take Responsibility. MAKE meaning. There’s a tendency in American culture to approach purpose and meaning passively, to see it as something imposed by external forces, to allow ourselves to be defined by our jobs, families, God. But we don’t have to be passive. We can be active, discover our own meanings, even create them, carving our own paths of purpose.
3. Meaning Is Not Universal, But Individual. Culturally, some purposes are viewed as more meaningful than others… but ultimately, what we find as meaningful is very personal. What we find meaningful is influenced by our personality, temperament, belief system, and values. That’s part of why we have to take responsibility, ourselves… because only we know what is really important and meaningful to us.
4. Meaning Can Be Large or Small. Big purposes are easy to spot… volunteering at a soup kitchen, starting a new charity organization, taking over day care for your grandkids. But small purposes are just as important, if not so grand…. watering a pot of petunias, feeding wild birds, maintaining friendships, or just smiling at a stranger.
5. We Can Have Multiple Meanings At The Same Time. Some people have one huge guiding purpose that runs throughout their whole life… a belief in God, a sense of civic responsibility, building a personal fortune, devotion to family. But we don’t *HAVE* to have a single guiding purpose, in order to be meaningful. Our actions can multiple, small impacts on the world around us, and it doesn’t matter if they fall into some grand pattern or not.
Eric Maisel has just published his new Meaning Solution Program.
Free introduction to the Program: 15 Great Meaning Opportunities.
Dr. Eric Maisel is “an author, family therapist and cultural observer and is widely regarded as America’s foremost creativity coach. His more than 30 books include Coaching the Artist Within, Creativity for Life, Creative Recovery, Fearless Creating and The Atheist’s Way.”
Learn more about his books plus Creativity Coaching Training and Meaning Coach Training at EricMaisel.com