Welcome to the PRISONERS OF OUR THOUGHTS conversation series. I'm glad to "see" you if this is your first visit --- and I welcome you back if you have been here before.
We have already worked on the first two of Viktor Frankl’s meaning-centered principles, Exercise the Freedom to Choose Your Attitude and Realize Your Will to Meaning, that I introduce in my book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts. If you missed these posts, please take the time to review them. I think you will benefit from the review as we move on to the third principle.
PRINCIPLE 3: Detect the Meaning of Life’s Moments --- only you can answer for your own life by detecting the meaning at any given moment and assuming responsibility for weaving your unique tapestry of existence.
In actuality, we don’t "create" meaning; we find it. And we can’t find it if we don’t look for it. Meaning comes to us in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it looms big in our lives; sometimes it slips in almost unobserved. Sometimes we miss a meaningful moment entirely until days, months, or even years go by and then suddenly something that once seemed insignificant becomes a pivotal, life-changing moment. Sometimes, too, it is the collective meaning of many moments that finally catches our mind’s eye; as if we weave together a living quilt from patches of moments that, by themselves, would have passed us by unnoticed. And although we are not always aware of it, meaning, Frankl would say, is in every present moment. …All we have to do, in our daily life and at work, is to wake up to meaning and take notice.
“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now! …The true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche…" --- Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
It all comes down to awareness. In this regard, it has been said that “it is more important to be aware than it is to be smart.” To be aware is to know meaning. To be aware takes time. It asks more of us. If our lives are propelled by nothing but things piling up to respond to or the passive preoccupation with such things as television, we lose out on meaning. We have to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste meaning if it’s going to exist in our lives.
PUTTING MEANING INTO THIS CONVERSATION... Individual Action & Reflection Activities
With this third, Detect the Meaning of Life’s Moments, principle, I want to encourage you to get personally involved. To really take away the full meaning of this principle, you must experience the meaning of--and in--it yourself. You need to discover it.
Two Ways to Experience the Meaning for Yourself:
In the Chapter 6, Detect the Meaning of Life’s Moments (Page 79), in Prisoners of Our Thoughts, there are two exercises beginning on page 93. One is called High Altitude Thinking (as I point out, I am fortunate to live in the mountains of north-central New Mexico!) and one is called the Eulogy Exercise. Read about them and do one or even both. Come back and tell us about the meaning you discovered for yourself and, of course, bring your questions.
Now recall a situation in your work life in which you were forced to deal with the fear of change (this may even be your situation today). Perhaps you were:
--- Facing a down-sizing or merger
--- A change in management/leadership style
--- The need for job re-training
--- Retirement or other major life change impacting your work
Ask yourself the following questions:
How did you first come to recognize the fear of change?
What, if anything, did you actually do about it?
What did you learn from it? What meaning did you discover in it?
What did you learn about your ability to confront your fears and respond to change?
I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences…ask a question, share an opinion. I welcome hearing from you and will enjoy reading (and responding to) your posts. I'll be checking in from time to time and look forward learning from you about how you are working to detect the meaning of life’s moments.
All the best,
Alex Pattakos, Ph.D.
author, Prisoners of Our Thoughts
founder, Center for Meaning
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