Living With Meaning

Aug 26, 2012


In:Inspirational, Miscellaneous

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Why can’t people simply do what they are told? Why is there so much resistance to all the important “shoulds,” expectations, rules and regulations of society? Why do they question and doubt and judge what tradition claims is right?

It is true that doing what you were told, or the traditional command-and-control method of operation, provided us with structure. Command-and-control systematizes and automates productivity. But why is it also a tactic that is not seemingly sustainable? For instance, one by one, kingdoms have dissolved and corporations have “flattened.” Religious traditions are shifting and leading brands are now competing, not for supremacy, but for longevity. If command-and-control is so effective then why is it flailing to exist?

Perhaps the reason command-and-control, of any social variety, is difficult to sustain is because it does not gratify a deeper human condition. Studies reveal that once man satisfies his requirements for health and safety, his motivation shifts dramatically towards obtaining purpose. So as our world continues to develop, its ability to perform mechanical operations and fulfill role expectations, systematized through authoritarianism, will weaken. “Why do I exist?” and “What is the meaning of my life?” will murmur through the avenues, which spurs the evolution or breakdown of command-and-control operations.

A recent study at Colorado State University had participants perform mind-numbingly dull tasks. Researchers then told the participants that the longer they worked, the more money would be donated to various causes–researchers essentially attached meaning to the work. It was noted that the participants not only worked longer hours but that they stated that they found the labor more meaningful (The Denver Post 2012). Behavioral exploration is also revealing that meaning is trumping money in determining what people really want. In other words, man needs something for the sake of living and that without meaning he will eventually lack purpose and then lose his ability to thrive; we simply aren’t wired to be automatons so don’t criticize yourself for not becoming one.

A very interesting examination of the impact meaning has on our ability to thrive is in Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning.” In it, Frankl asks why some humans are able to endure extreme difficulty, while others are not, as experienced in his internment as a Holocaust prisoner. In other words, what makes a man thrive, regardless of condition? Frankl states that while many people died, due to health conditions, many more died because they simply gave up hope. Hope, which is the belief that meaning exists, must also be bolstered by purpose or it too will wane. Hope, meaning, purpose…these are key forces to Man’s ability to function and prosper and yet these are rarely discussed in the context of practical living and employment. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”

Again, there seems to be more to us than what exists in our local mall and these significant findings require attention in order to maintain a healthy, balanced and fulfilling life. It is safe to conclude that if someone lives and works in an environment that does not provide them with meaning, that individual will eventually become lackluster within that context. Therefore, losing drive should not be deemed as failure, rather as a temperature reading of the functionality of the current environment. Literally, becoming lackluster and disappointed with the way things are can provide you the information with which to correct your trajectory course-the way you are operating your life should change.

It is Shaboo Prints’ belief that in order to live more fully, which includes obtaining purpose, daily actions should be conducted consciously. Just becoming aware of your deeper needs can be enough to reprogram your computer brain to change the course of your life. Tradition has segmented meaningful from responsible as an either-or way of being, but you can indeed achieve meaning whilst upholding your responsibilities. To begin, we must exist with a knowing that every act, every occurrence by self and others, has meaningful consequences, whether they be positive or negative.

It takes a courageous person to pursue meaning, these days. First it requires discovering who you are so that you can identify what is meaningful to you. It also means actively staying aware in the midst of mind-numbing exposure and meeting the challenge that, in some cases, individuality is not enthusiastically supported. Shaboo gives those individuals permission to search for meaning, even if it means operating outside of the confines of tradition.

Uniquely yours,