A few years ago, I rented a working space with some other people for a while. Once a month I gave an introductory lecture to NVC. Each time there was a varied number of participants, sometimes as many as 20 people. At one occasion, only a single person came. After a first wave of disappointment, I started my lecture. Pretty soon, the disappointment was replaced by enthusiasm and excitement. I enjoyed the event to a great extent and my lone participant also seemed to appreciate the moment.
When I get the opportunity to share NVC with people who are curious and want to explore and to develop, I experience a high degree of meaning. During these kinds of events I have the opportunity to make my knowledge and my experiences available. And other people have the opportunity to receive what I have to offer. There aren’t many experiences in life that beat this.
Meaning – or purpose – is one of my absolutely favourite needs. The moments when I experience this need met are the moments that are the most meaningful in my life. It’s about being able to contribute with something bigger than myself, something that extends beyond the boundaries of my individual body.
I’m not entirely sure, but I think my experience of meaning always includes other people. If they are not physically present, they are in my awareness. It is important to me that my actions make an impact – other people learn, develop and experience new things because of what I do.
Do I have a choice?
Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is my free will. How much am I involved in creating the purpose of my life and how much am I a product of the life circumstances around me? I’m born and raised in Sweden, one of the world’s most secularised countries with a mixture of both an individual and a collectivist culture. One thing is clear – if I was born in a different time, in another culture, but with the same biological body, my goals and dreams in life would look different. What I find meaningful in life is largely a result of my surroundings.
In scientific experiments, researchers have shown that our free will is often an illusion. When we think we have made a conscious decision, our brain has already made that decision for us. When the researchers in these experiments read the activity in our brains, they know what decisions we will make before we consciously make them.
The meaning or the meanings of life
I don’t think there is one right answer. I may have the idea that if I seek and dig deep enough within myself, the ultimate meaning of my life will emerge. But I don’t believe in a fixed and complete meaning. Rather, I believe that what I find meaningful shifts throughout life. I have – paradoxically – a choice. I can choose the same goal and meaning for my whole life, as a point of reference. I can also choose to change what I give meaning to based on how my life develops.
When I look back at my life, I see that I have had periods with different focus and content. Sometimes I have hung out and collaborated intensively with many people in different social contexts. Sometimes I have devoted more time to myself. Sometimes I have focused on learning, development and goal fulfilment and other times on conscious presence and of being rather than doing.
In my life I have two choices. I can choose immediate satisfaction or I can delay my gratifications. I know from experience that it’s much easier to choose immediate satisfaction. But at the end of the day, I know what’s most satisfying. To sacrifice now in order to obtain later is for the most part what I’m most pleased with.
So, whether I independently create the meaning of my life or not, I can notice that the need is there. I’m choosing to see my actions as conscious and meaningful choices. And I will continue to enjoy the moments when I am creating meaningful experiences together with other people.
What do you choose to create a meaningful life?
Joachim Berggren (CNVC Certified Trainer)
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On 30 March at 17:00-17:45 CET, I had a Zoom Talk with Jürgen Licht about the need for meaning.
If you read this afterwards, you can watch the recording when you become a premium subscriber. Check the details HERE.
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