Life is all about finding meaning, isn’t it?
We know that money doesn’t make us happy…
Relationships are fun for a while, but they almost always come with challenges…
And you can spend all your time pursuing dopamine rushes (i.e., traveling), but even that will cease to produce the same results after a while.
So, life must be about meaning.
Here’s what I’ve realized for myself. You can take it with a grain of salt if you wish.
Human beings are meaning making machines already. We make a meaning out of everything. It happens automatically, without any help or support on our part.
So, my question is, why would you want to add so much meaning to a mind that’s already swimming with it?
The delivery guy was late, so you assume he got lost or there was just too much traffic.
Your friend’s phone hangs up mid-sentence, so you assume their device’s battery died.
Your significant other leaves home before you wake up, and you assume they’re mad at you.
Oftentimes without so much as confirming or completing any of it.
And by “completing” I mean things that bug you. Things that run you and your behavior, sometimes without you even knowing. Things that change the way you communicate with others, because of the assumptions you’ve made about them.
These are things you can complete. And we should all be in the habit of completing them. Otherwise, they tend to live with us indefinitely.
That’s a constrained life. It’s a life built on beliefs (past based) rather than faith (future based).
Imagine harboring resentment for your significant other for months and years because of something they did or didn’t do, and the way you interpreted it.
You probably don’t even need to imagine it because you’ve had that experience.
Where did that come from?
It came from the meaning you made of a conversation had or not had, actions taken or not taken, assumption made or not made.
So, why pursue meaning? What exactly are you looking for?
High-performing human beings are those who set aside meaning. They come from nothing, so that they can be present to others and their communication. Instead of listening from “so and so is always this way,” or “people stay the same,” they hear what’s being said.
And this is a different kind of hearing. Not just hearing what’s being said but also hearing what’s not being said that’s important to the person saying it. You can’t listen to others that way with a head full of meaning. It’s just not going to happen.
Once you give up meaning, you can stop spending so much time communicating from the head and begin communicating from the heart. You can be present, not just to others, but also to life.
The other day, I was standing in front of a friend’s house, waiting for her to come out. I had a freaky experience, because for once, I was present to life.
I could hear the ferry off in the distance. Construction happening in another direction. Cars moving about the neighborhood. Birds singing in the trees. The vibrant colors of the grass. I could sense it all, even though it was not all within the scope of my vision.
Imagine being so present to what others are saying that you don’t just hear the words being said – you hear what their motivations, convictions, and goals are in life. You can listen from what’s important to them.
You can pursue meaning if you wish. But I have found it to be empty because it leaves you unable to create anything new. You end up basing everything off something you already know. So, you keep creating within the realm of what’s familiar, while becoming further constrained to the meaning you add to it. Your world gets smaller and smaller because of all that meaning.
You end up listening to others to judge them, not to hear them from a new space. And that’s in your own listening. It’s not your friend’s fault that you’re hearing them as you’ve always heard them, despite the transformation they’ve gone through. It’s because of how you’re listening to them. You’re not present.
Again, this is one man’s opinion. But high performers are generally those that drop what they think they know, and instead listen from nothing.
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