How we attach meaning to events in our lives has a large influence on the quality of our life.
The meaning we assign to our experiences–whether pleasant or distressing, is a very powerful factor in determining the quality of our lives. What we imagine events to mean will color the way we feel about ourselves, about the people in our lives, and about the world at large. If we want to encourage a positive outlook, well-being, and a sense of self-confidence and even trust in the universe, we can begin by assigning more peaceful, loving meanings to what we experience.
Imagine, for example, that a friend fails to show up to a lunch date. You have choices as to what you will make this experience mean for you. You could allow being “stood up” to reinforce your feelings of unworthiness, you could begin to mentally attack your friend’s character, or you could assume that something big must have happened to cause them to miss the date–then, you might open yourself up to enjoying some relaxing time alone.
If you were recently laid off and are having difficulty finding a new job, consider that you might have hidden gifts or passions that were untapped in your regular career that you are now available to explore. The universe might simply be moving you in a more fulfilling direction. If you have recently lost a loved one, gained weight, lost money, or gotten in a fight with your partner, see if you can infuse the experience with meaning that feels loving and empowering and opens a door for you to embrace life and the world a bit more.
When we begin to bring consciousness to what we are making things mean, we may be shocked at the messages we have been feeding ourselves all these years. Try taking the reigns and begin assigning a kinder meaning to the events in your life and you will likely find yourself on a much more pleasant ride.
“Honesty without kindness, humor, and goodheartedness can be just mean. From the very beginning to the very end, pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn’t just a matter of honesty but also of compassion and respect for what we see. Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason why is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe.”
“The story is about the love, compassion, humor, and patience you bring to your life and its situations. God and the universe aren’t just working on the situation: they’re working on YOU. If you’re wondering why the universe isn’t solely focused on getting you the great job offer it’s because the universe isn’t always concerned with which job you have. The picture is much bigger than that. Neither is the universe concerned whether or not you’re married or in a relationship—it’s more concerned with your experience of love than who is or is not in your life. And rather than focusing solely on your health, the universe is more concerned with your experience of life, whatever the conditions may be. The universe is concerned with who you are, and it will bring into your life, in whatever the situations, in whatever time, what you need to become the person you’re supposed to be. The key lies in trusting—and having patience.”
Why do we make the choices we do? After all, we do not have unlimited freedom to do things. We find ourselves constrained by our gender, our race, our economic circumstances, our personalities that were shaped both by genetics and the random processes of life. Furthermore, we find that other people have their own ideas of what we should be doing, and they constrain us still further.
A person born into one culture will have entirely different options than one born into another. They may both lead valuable lives, but they will most certainly differ in many respects. The meaning that they find will come from different palettes. We cannot say that one person’s life is more valuable than another’s.
Of all the people who have lived, have any of them been truly “better” than another? We see in their lives only the exercise of preferences, not differences of inherent meaning.
All meaning in life is arbitrary. It is not tied to god, family, or self unless we define it as such. Nothing in life gives us meaning in and of itself. It is we who assign meaning to objects and relationships. We all try to make the structure of our meaning pretty, but in the end, there is no escape from the feeling that it is all arbitrary.
It might be better not to ruin the universe with our own patterns.
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” -John Burroughs-
“Sometimes, I sit alone under the stars and think of the galaxies inside my heart, and truly wonder if anyone will ever want to make sense of all that I am.” -Testy McTesterson-
“Love makes of each moment an eternity And tends the garden of the heart’s desire When love mocks, ruby tears fall heavy as pomegranates And when love looks, it sees your deepest mystery. Love seeks out the tears of hidden hearts And turns not from the Lovers of the Dawn. Is there a remedy for the pain of love? Or is it too unbearable for thought? One taste of the medicine And you will realise just how sick you have been. Those who plead in the defence of love In love’s judgement shall find grace And to that court, Hafiz May your heart fly…”