I can’t say that I’ve ever given much thought to the meaning of life. It’s purpose, yes; but not it’s meaning…until I read Every Time I Find the Meaning of LIfe, They Change It (opens in a new link) by Daniel Klein.The book is an examination of various philosophies of life.
As I was reading, I noticed that the author often wondered whether a philosophy intrigued him because of its innate wisdom or his stage of life. This prompted me to consider my seven plus decades which led me to the conclusion that It isn’t others who are changing the rules, which is what Klein’s title suggests, but it’s we who are changing.
My rumination resulted in me realizing that in the early years I was testing my abilities. I was striving to prove myself to myself. The internal validation was essential to my understanding of who I was and what I aspired to become.
This testing phase extended well into the early years of my career where I added a competitive aspect to my self-evaluation. I was interested in how I stacked up against others in my field. I wanted to be recognized as one of the best and brightest in my field.
Once I was satisfied with what abilities I possessed and that I employed them reasonably well, I became more other-centric. During these years, confidence in my abilities shifted my focus to helping others excel in what they do…even if we were in the same field. Indeed, it was during these years that I adopted the mission of “leaving everyone I meet better off than before we met.”
This was a dramatic shift for me. While I had always followed my parents example of helping others in need, in the early years I was so focused on discovering my identity and developing a reputation as a solid performer that I never considered making helping others the focal point of my life.
Interestingly my focus was still on self-improvement although my motivation was different. I wasn’t doing it to enhance my image of my self worth. I was improving so that I could expand the skill set I had available to help others. The growth in my skills and abilities were icing on the cake…benefits that accrued to me as I was intent on finding more ways to help others.
My self-improvement campaign eventually led me to a greater understanding of the power of the spiritual nature of things like confidence, the subconscious mind and being one with the universe. These discoveries have made it possible to help others in ways I had not previously imagined…on a deeper level of understanding and awareness than ever before in my life.
These insights led me to the conclusion that it isn’t “they” who are changing the rules. It’s we who are changing and with these changes come new perspectives on the meaning (purpose) of life.
So what does this mean for you?
What it means is that you have the ability to choose your purpose, life’s meaning, to you. I used the example of my life simply to illustrate how priorities change in life, often subconsciously.
If you’re happy with the direction your life is taking, keep doing what you’re doing. It’s working for you…and I’m happy for you. If not, realize it’s not “they” who are changing the rules; it’s you who has chosen a path that isn’t working for you. So choose again, consciously this time.
Here are a few tips to help you make conscious decisions so that you can enjoy life more:
- Those who are committed to life-long personal improvement are generally happier than those who don’t. I loved it when one of my long-term clients said “Your not the same guy we hired 13 years ago.” The implication being that I’d grown in awareness as well as skills and abilities
- Things rarely go as planned. The good news is that our ability to learn and adapt enables us to deal with anything life sends our way.
- In our youth and early careers we focus on proving ourselves to ourselves. Later in life, as we become comfortable with who we are, we shift our focus away from ourselves and onto others. You can accelerate this process by adopting the mission of “leaving everyone you meet better off than before you met.” Remind yourself of your mission each morning as you rise and you’ll find yourself being successful multiple times a day.
- Each morning upon rising and each evening just prior to retiring, remind yourself of all the good that exists in your life…including what you learned from the challenges you faced. Gratitude is one of life’s elixirs.
For our kids
Live a life of self improvement. As kids see you grow, they’ll see first hand the benefits of your investment in yourself. Their observations will result in them mimicking your behavior. They’ll develop a love of learning in a diverse set of topics which will serve them well throughout their lives.
As kids experiences challenges (and we all do), help them see how well they’ve dealt with other challenges in their lives. It doesn’t matter how big or small the challenge was, the key is that they see that they learned how to deal with the situation…even when they had no background or experience.
Share with them your mission in life. They’re likely to adopt it as well…especially when they see you consistently helping others deal with whatever they’re facing.
Teach them to be grateful. Share with them each day, the things for which you’re grateful and they’ll develop the habit of seeing the good in their lives as well.
As you arm them with these insights you’ll find that they rarely feel the victim, rarely feel that they that are at others’ whims. Instead, they’ll realize how they’re changing and the impact these changes are having on their lives. If the choices they’ve made aren’t serving them well, they’ll make conscious choices to return to a happier, more fulfilling life. After all, isn’t that what we wish for our kids.
Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.
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If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link).
If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).