Finding Meaning in 2019 and Beyond:
Responding to Calls of the Heart
One of the illuminating lights for well-being and happiness is finding meaning in life – responding to the calls of the heart. In 2019, how will you wake up to your meaningful callings?
There is a crisis of meaning in the U.S. today – a lot of noise and perhaps not enough observing and listening.
Many of us are searching for happiness in ways that bring only momentary satisfactions. Seeking happiness without meaning is like watching the Superbowl with no understanding of the football game itself – it’s a good party, but we don’t know much about why we are there.
Three conditions contribute to our perceptions of meaning – we sense that our lives are worthwhile and part of a larger picture; we evaluate our lives as being logical and significant; and we experience a feeling of purpose (Smith, 2017).
A 2013 study by positive psychologist Roy Baumeister, PhD and colleagues surveyed almost 400 people. Their findings suggested that meaningfulness was connected to expressing personal identity. Meaning involved doing things for others – giving rather than taking – and linking past, present, and future even though feelings of stress or worry might be involved.
Consider this. Engaging in meaningful pursuits may not bring you happiness in the present, but can lead to well-being in the future (Huta & Ryan, 2009). For example, getting up to go to work may be a challenge each day, but long term meaningful outcomes may include providing for loved ones, accruing security, and building professional relationships.
How Will You Move Toward Your Meaningful Callings?
1. Take some time to mindfully pause, paying attention to who you are and who you want to become. Engage in a balance that includes slowing down, waking up to the callings of your heart, and then taking action. Many people employ practices such as breath awareness, meditation, visualization, and time in natural surroundings to center in on their internal knowings.
2. Ideas for self-inquiries to wake up to purpose and meaning:
- If I were writing a book about my life’s story, what would the title be?
- What do I wish the title of my auto-biography could be?
- What do I wish I had done, that I have not yet gotten to?
- If I could change 3 things about my life, what would they be?
- When I listen to my heart – to the quiet voice inside me — what do I hear, see, feel?
- When do I feel most fulfilled? When do I feel least fulfilled?
- What do I feel is my life’s purpose or calling?
3. Talk to trusted family and friends. Seek out mentors, advocates, or a professional coach to offer inspiration and support as you gain greater clarification about your purpose.
4. Call Yourself to Action! When you’re ready, begin your journey, moving from meaningful contemplation to action.
- What action can I take to become more of the person I want to be?
- What step(s) am I ready to begin today? This week?
- How will I hold myself accountable to do what I tell myself I will do?
5. To get more information about responding to the calls of your heart, check out a pamphlet I published to help people awaken to greater meaning, “25 Powerful Questions for Awakening Meaning in Life and Work: A guide to awareness and action.”
Resources and References to Learn More:
- Baumeister, R.F., Vohs, K.D., Aaker, J.L., & Garbinsky, E.N. (2013). Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(6), 505-516.
- Berns-Zare, I. (2017). 25 powerful questions for awakening meaning in life and work: A guide to awareness and action.
- Huta, V. & Ryan, R. (2010). Pursuing pleasure of virtue: The differential and overlapping well-being benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic motives. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(6),735-762.
- Smith, E.E. (2017). The power of meaning: Finding fulfillment in a world obsessed with happiness. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
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Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD is a life and leadership coach, psychologist, and educator. Ilene has dedicated much of her career to the personal and professional development and integrative well-being of others. As a life and leadership coach, psychologist, and educator, she inspires others to find fresh perspectives and access their full potential as creative, resourceful, whole persons. Find Ilene online and access free resources at http://ileneberns-zare.com.
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In light and empowerment,
Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD, MS, ACC, is an ICF Credentialed Professional Coach, Psychologist, and Educator. Ilene partners with people going through transitions and transformations. Coaching empowers people to take the lead in their personal and professional lives, setting goals and taking actions to maximize meaning, well-being, and success. For more information about Ilene, to book Ilene for coaching or speaking, or to view recent newsletters, visit her website at ileneberns-zare.com.
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