Monday, August 15, 2016

Task No. 6: Determining the Meaning of One’s Life Jung

My uncle passed recently as did my mother-in-law, and at my age I realize that I am faced with more of my peers dying. We are born, we live, we die. Nature is consistent in this fact: 100% of us die. 

 Jung said that:“Life meaning among the young is framed by styles of appearance, language, material acquisitions, and social affiliations in the quest for a solid footing in the external world...

“However, the search for life meaning undergoes a major shift in the second half of life. Whatever people’s material success, many find less and less meaning from “things.” So, they begin to look inward rather than to the outer world in their search for life meaning.”

We  don’t know how long we have on this planet, but we do know this, we exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness.

Humans are storytellers, we seek out patterns, we look for a narrative so it is reasonable to ask “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” Jung address this in his sixth task of aging, although many ask the question of themselves when they were younger.

However, we all have a tendency to lose touch with what we thought, loved and asked ourselves when we were a child. Something about the social pressures of adolescence and professional pressures of young adulthood squeezes the passion out of us. We’re taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it.

Life has meaning for us when we discover what we are passionate about. One way to do this is to think about what you would do, if there were no useless websites, no Facebook, no video games, no TV, where would you go and what would you do?

Would you sign up for a dance class? Join a book club? Go get another degree? Invent a new form of irrigation system that can save the thousands of children’s lives in rural Africa? Learn to hang glide?

Maybe, you will do some of these, maybe not, what we are asking is: “What can you do with your time that is important? You define important, and when you do, you are in fact deciding what your legacy will be when you finally die.

So what is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? Is there anything to say at all? If not, what would you like it to say? Why and how can you start working towards being the person; you want  to be remembered as today?

When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them, they don’t know what their values are.

And when you don’t know what your values are, then you’re essentially taking on other people’s values and living other people’s priorities instead of your own.

Discovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you.

And to find them you must get off your couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than yourself, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without yourself. As we age we are moving closer to that world, so my advice is to act now.

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