Humans and all creatures are meaning-making “machines”; no living creature would survive without meaning-making. Everything that happens to us and around us that we encounter for the first time causes us to assign a meaning to it. Once we see the same pattern of experiences occurring in our lives again, we give it the meaning we gave it the first time, providing the meaning we gave it helped us to resolve what was happening to us in a positive manner—in a manner that enabled us to meet our most urgent needs.
This is how we build up our beliefs—by assigning meaning to our experiences. Beliefs are assumptions we hold to be true. They may be true, or they may not be true, but we assume they are true until the belief no longer works for us—until it no longer allows us to get our needs met—then we change our beliefs.
Humans differ from all other creatures because we are self-aware. We are aware that we have a life and we are aware that our life in this three-dimensional, physical plane of existence will come to an end someday. This thought causes us to reflect on the meaning of our life.
Fundamentally, the meaning of your life is the meaning you give it. No one else can give your life meaning. You are the one experiencing your reality, and you are the one giving it meaning. The meaning you give to your life is totally subjective.
If you are not born with some innate talent, you will begin to worry about what meaning to give to your life when you reach the self-actualizing stage of development—around your forties. This worry is caused by your ego trying to justify your existence. Your ego wants to feel a sense of importance. Meanwhile, your soul knows why it incarnated into your body. All it wants to do is express its unique nature and talents: it wants to fully express itself through you.
I always tell people, “Don’t worry about finding a meaning for your life, just learn how to fully express who you are at the soul level. Whatever brings joy to your life is your meaning for existence.”
~Richard Barrett is an author, speaker and internationally recognised thought leader on the evolution of human values in business and society. He is the founder and chairman of the Barrett Values Centre®, a Fellow of the World Business Academy and Former Values Coordinator at the World Bank.
He is the creator of the internationally recognized Cultural Transformation Tools® (CTT) which have been used to support more than 6,000 organizations on their transformational journeys. To date, more than 5,000 change agents, consultants and coaches have been trained by the Barrett Values Centre to use the Cultural Transformation Tools in over 50 countries
Richard has been a visiting lecturer at the Consulting and Coaching for Change, Leadership Course run by the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and HEC in Paris. He has also been an Adjunct Professor at Royal Roads University, Institute for Values-based Leadership, and a visiting lecturer at the One Planet MBA at Exeter University.
Richard Barrett is the author of Everything I Have Learned About Values (2018), The Values-driven Organization: Cultural Health and Employee Well-being as a Pathway to Sustainable Performance (2017), A New Psychology of Human Well-Being: An Exploration of the influence of Ego-Soul Dynamics on Mental and Physical Health (2016), The Metrics of Human Consciousness (2015), Evolutionary Coaching: A Values-based Approach to Unleashing Human Potential (2014), The Values-Driven Organisation: Unleashing Human Potential for Performance and Profit (2013), What My Soul Told Me: A Practical Guide to Soul Activation (2012), Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations: The Impact of the Evolution of Human Consciousness on World Affairs (2011), The New Leadership Paradigm (2010), Building a Values-Driven Organization: A Whole System Approach to Cultural Transformation (2006), Liberating the Corporate Soul: Building a Visionary Organization (1998), and he is a contributing author to Psychometrics in Coaching (2012).
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