It's a Meaningful Life

meaning-making as a pathway to CoFlourishing - fourth in the series on PERMA
posting by Jana

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What's meaningful? What does it mean to have a meaning - full life? Whatever the actual content of what makes a meaningful life, which is no doubt unique to each person, the fact and act of making meaning is an important part of human flourishing. One could argue that the rest of the structure of what positive psychologist Martin Seligman has identified as components of human flourishing - Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, and Accomplishment (the P, E, R, and A of PERMA) constitute Meaning (the M). 

In the fourth week of the year's first journey into CoFlourishing: people, place, and planet ... together, the daily Cosmic Quotes, rather than suggest what meaning to make of life, offer simple reminders that meaning is there to be made, whatever that 'means' to each of us. 

Monday 22 January 2018
A quote from Alice Walker began the week's focus on meaning and the medium ended up being the message for this one. I was surprised to discover on watching the clip on the YouTube playlist to prepare this summary that the cicadas in the background almost obscured the audio. Good thing the quote was about surprise:

Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.
— Alice Walker

Tuesday 23 January 2018
It was a noisy nature night again for this quote but being about affiliating with trees a little 'extra communion' with nature seemed fitting. This from Walt Whitman invites reflection on giving attention to what 'is' rather than what 'seems' as a pathway to meaning-making.

One lesson from affiliating with a tree — perhaps the greatest moral lesson anyhow from earth, rocks, animals, is that same lesson of inherency, of what is, without the least regard to what the looker on (the critic) supposes or says, or whether he (sic) likes or dislikes. What worse — what more general malady pervades each and all of us, our literature, education, attitude toward each other, (even toward ourselves,) than a morbid trouble about seems, (generally temporarily seems too,) and no trouble at all, or hardly any, about the sane, slow-growing, perennial, real parts of character, books, friendship, marriage — humanity’s invisible foundations and hold-together? (As the all-basis, the nerve, the great-sympathetic, the plenum within humanity, giving stamp to everything, is necessarily invisible.)

Wednesday 24 January 2018
What are the attitudes required to make meaning? Perhaps an important one is courage. It takes courage to reflect, to question, to experiment, to find out the hard way what matters - what fills us up and what empties us out. Today's quote on courage as:

... a kind of tenacious willingness; an attitude of being willing to try something
from psychologist Peter Fields in a Huff Post blog on 'How to Live a Meaningful Life'

Thursday 25 January 2018
Ursula K. Le Guin (October 21, 1929–January 22, 2018), 'a fierce thinker and largehearted, beautiful writer who considered writing an act of falling in love', was celebrated this week on one of my favourite meaning-making resources:

I love the idea of questioning what is 'spare' time when life can be 'fully and vitally occupied'. 

An increasing part of living at my age is mere bodily maintenance which is tiresome but I cannot find anywhere in my life a time or a kind of time that is unoccupied. I am free but my time is not. My time is fully and vitally occupied with sleep, with daydreaming, with doing business and writing friends and family on email, with reading, with writing poetry, with writing prose, with thinking, with forgetting, with embroidering, with cooking and eating a meal and cleaning up the kitchen, with construing Virgil, with meeting friends, with talking with my husband, with going out to shop for groceries, with walking if I can walk and traveling if we are traveling, with sitting Vipassana sometimes, with watching a movie sometimes, with doing the Eight Precious Chinese exercises when I can, with lying down for an afternoon rest with a volume of Krazy Kat to read and my own slightly crazy cat occupying the region between my upper thighs and mid-calves, where he arranges himself and goes instantly and deeply to sleep. None of this is spare time. I can’t spare it....  I am going to be eighty-one next week. I have no time to spare.
— Ursula LeGuin

Friday 26 January 2018
American poet, critique, essayist, and novelist Laura Riding on thinking rather than just doing.

People who for some reason find it impossible to think about themselves and so really be themselves try to make up for not thinking with doing.

Saturday 27 January 2018
Letting nature do the talking - how a long horizon invites meaning making, offering breadth for thinking about the self apart so that our doing has depth of purpose.

These were all the quotes for this week on Meaning. What meaning making practices do you employ? Who are your meaning-making companions (in person, in books, in nature?)

Enjoy the journey!


The purpose of these journeys via the Cosmic Quotes is to explore what it means to be a Cosmic Person, to live with sensitivity to and conscious awareness that we belong to the universe and that our lives are governed by interdependency, connectedness, and emergence. To be a Cosmic Person is to let this awareness support our wellbeing and direct our decisions and choices such that our lives become about participating in the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth. It's about living a bigger story, a better story, and a beautiful story, the one about falling in love with the Earth over and over again.