I had the honor of working with a group this week around the subject of meaning in life and at work. We all wrote down a list of things that are meaningful to us. This is such a good start to creating more meaning- identifying what is already meaningful so that you can build upon it!
As I was preparing for them I found some great information that I didn’t have time to share. It’s from an article by one of my favorite people- Ryan Niemiec of the VIA Institute on Character. The article is called “How to Make Your Life More Meaningful” and can be found at via character.org.
In the article he discusses three levels to meaning and I want to share them with you because they are a great gauge to where you can recognize and expand meaning.
COHERENCE is the thinking level of meaning, the first level he mentions. This level is all about how you make sense too the things that have happened in life, he mentions in particular the good things- and pulling out the meaning in those things. The strengths involved in doing this are curiosity, perspective, judgement and spirituality.
SIGNIFiCANCE is the second level, which is the feelings level of meaning. Feeling that YOU matter and that LIFE matters, feeling appreciation for yourself and others in a profound way. Even the whole world. Love, gratitude, kindness and forgiveness are strengths that come into play here. Niemiec directs us to ask this question – “How am I using these strengths in my closest relationships?” and that your answers to this question are likely part of your meaning.
PURPOSE is the third level- the behavioral level of meaning. This area involves having inspiring life goals and actively working to achieve them. What gives you a sense of mission in your life? For this one is suggests that you decide which of your strengths are a central pathway for you to your purpose. Think of a meaningful life goal that you have and then ask yourself which strengths you are using to make progress or to achieve this goal.
Calling on strengths is a great way to get more information out of your brain- access to all of those answers we already have, but don’t know it. If you haven’t taken your own VIA Character strengths survey, I highly suggest doing so today to learn what your strengths are. No matter what, you can use all of the strengths I have mentioned here. We all have access to them. Visit www.viacharacter.org to take the free assessment!