I know it may be hard to believe, but the meaning of life is determined by the meaning you give it. What I mean by that is that most of what we experience in life are not black and white facts. As a matter of fact, very little of what we have believed to be “factual” or “reality” is actually subject to each individual’s interpretation, perspective, analysis, or perception–that is the meaning we give it.
Wow! That was an eye opener, more like a brain opener, really. Try to think back to situations where you walked away with a very different impression than someone else – and this concept will become clearer to you. For example, let’s say that your first car was a turquoise Pontiac. And let’s say that you always considered it a blue car, as blue was your favorite color. One day, a friend of yours insisted it was a green car. Do you see how much of a difference can be made with a simple interpretation?
I’m sure you’ve had lots of those experiences throughout your life, and while they may have caused strife between you and your opposing opinionater (is that a word?), you probably eventually realized that it was not all that uncommon. But beyond whatever color we call an object, the deeper meaning that we assign to the same object, (or experience, or person) has a significant impact on how we move forward from there.
For instance, let’s say that you lose your job. If you assign negativity to that experience, you can easily sink into despair. But maybe another person out there might decide to assign a very different emotion and meaning to that incident. Maybe they’d think of it more like being set loose from the corporate culture so they could finally carve out a niche in business. Same occurrence, different meanings.
Where do our meanings come from? They come largely from our experiences, as well as our programmed beliefs. They come from messages we’ve gotten from parents, peers, and society. If we’ve been conditioned to place certain meanings on certain experiences, we automatically pull out that meaning. That means we have become robotic in our thinking and not choosing for ourselves.
If you want to change the meaning of what you experience in life from this point forward, all you have to do is question yourself. Do this whenever you don’t like the meaning you’ve assigned. Say someone sends you a nasty letter or email. (I recently got one from a seller on eBay because I misinterpreted an item). Now my first reaction might have been, what a jerk, how could he be so rude? This would be what we’ve been conditioned to think, that when someone “attacks” us we attack back. But if I want to change the meaning I give this event, I need to stop myself when I notice my automatic response and say, “how else could I interpret this?” And I told myself that this person may be having a hard day, he doesn’t even know me, and this is nothing to take personally. I just let it go.
You see, each moment in life can be an opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. If we give a productive meaning to each experience, each person, we are choosing our own action, rather than reaction. How would your life be different if you were in the driver’s seat of placing the meaning on everything in your life? Practice this technique every day, and you’ll soon have the answer to that question.