How To Become The Best Version Of Yourself
Pursuing meaning is the true path to success
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life,” — Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl was a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist who spent three years in a Nazi concentration camp. During his time in the camp, he lost everything he had including his wife and both parents.
But, somehow he survived the worst conditions imaginable and went on to write a bestselling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which tells his experiences in the camp. In his book, he tells us that the difference between those who died and those who lived came down to having meaning.
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” — Viktor Frankl
Meaning is what kept Viktor Frankl alive, and meaning can also help you become the best version of yourself.
What is Meaning
“Here’s the truth. We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness. The unimportant ones basically just kill time.- Mark Manson”
Do you ever wonder why you’re here?
Why you exist?
What your purpose is?
This is one of life’s biggest questions and there is no simple answer.
When you think about finding meaning in your life, you tend to think about figuring it out, or finding it like it is out there waiting to be found.
“To be psychologically and spiritually healthy, we need to believe that our lives matter. We all need to discover ways to feel connected to something larger than ourselves — to feel that our lives make sense and that we have a purpose.” — Emily Esfahani Smith
But is there another way?
Can we create meaning instead of discovering it?
“So when people say, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” what they’re actually asking is: “What can I do with my time that is important?” — Mark Mason
You create meaning is doing what is most important for you in life.
What is the difference between happiness and Meaning — fulfillment
“Happiness without meaning,” the researchers wrote, “characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desires are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided.” In other words, the life of a “taker.” — Roy Baumeister
Research shows that having a meaningful life will increase your overall sense of well-being, improve your mental and physical health, enhance your resiliency, and decrease your chances of developing depression.
Unfortunately, the quest for happiness without meaning causes you to become a self-centered, and self-absorbed. Not only that, but according to research, the pursuit of happiness without meaning will leave your less happy.
The irony of the situation is that many people chase happiness because they don’t have a meaningful life.
“It is the very pursuit of happiness,” Frankl knew, “that thwarts happiness.” — Emily Esfahani Smith
You will never be happy without meaning in your life.
The Four Pillars Of Meaning
So, how do we find meaning?
In her book, The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness — Emily Esfahani Smith outlines a new way to look at finding meaning that she refers to as the four pillars of meaning: Belonging, Purpose, Storytelling, and Transcendence.
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” — Brene Brown
We are all born with a deep-seated need to belong to something. In our early years, it is our family. As we grow older we also belong to our schools, communities, and even our workplaces.
Belonging is important.
Belonging makes our life worthwhile.
We join groups of like-minded people so to satisfy our desire to belong to something greater than ourselves.
Belonging provides us with a place to be accepted, affirmed, recognized and understood.
Belonging provides us with the relationships that provide meaning to our lives.
“Purpose is a goal toward which we are always working. It is the forward-pointing arrow that motivates our behavior and serves as the organizing principle of our lives.” — Derek Beres
Purpose is about having something worthwhile to do with your life. It is what motivates your behavior and allows you to make a unique contribution to the world.
When you are living your purpose, you will be more motivated and resilient. You will have the ability to break through the walls that hold you back and reach your goals.
Your purpose might be to save the whales or to end world hunger. But it might also be to help your children develop into the best version of themselves, or to bring your community together in a way that supports each other.
Your purpose is important.
“The stories we tell about ourselves help us understand who we are, how our lives developed, and how they could have unfolded differently. But we also find meaning in the stories told by others.” — Derek Beres
Storytelling is not what you think. It is not about telling your story to others, but it is the story you tell yourself about your life. It is how you make sense of your experiences and how they fit into the world around you.
“Storytelling is really about the story that you tell yourself about your life, about how you became you. It’s your personal myth.” — Emily Esfahani Smith
You are a storyteller even if you don’t realize it. You are constantly assembling your life experiences into a common narrative that helps you make sense of your life.
It is telling yourself these stories that create meaning in your life. In fact, people who describe their lives as meaningful have redemptive stories of overcoming something negative and growing into something meaningful.
Your story is important.
“Those moments where you’re basically lifted above the hustle and bustle of daily life and you feel your sense of self fade away.” — Emily Esfahani Smith
For Smith, transcendence is about connecting to something higher, whether it’s nature or God. For others, it involves getting into a mental state of complete focus and engagement. This is what psychologists refer to as flow.
In positive psychology, flow is also referred to as being in the zone. This is the state where you are fully immersed in an activity. In essence, when you are in a state of flow, you lose track of time and space.
It is through this state of flow, or being in the zone, that we often find our sense of meaning.
“You don’t have to change the world or find your one true purpose to lead a meaningful life. A good life is a life of goodness — and that’s something anyone can aspire to, no matter their dreams or circumstances.” — Emily Esfahani Smith
If you want to be the best version of yourself you need to have meaning.
Without meaning, you will never find happiness and fulfillment, but meaning will allow you to be happy and fulfilled.
“Pursuing meaning doesn’t require a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain in Tibet or to the most ancient library in the world. Meaning is available to us here and now if we can only recognize it, cultivate it, and embrace it.” — Emily Esfahani Smith
The four pillars of meaning provide a new way to look at finding meaning in your life and help you to become the best version of yourself.
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