The meaning of life isn’t what you think it is.
I’ve heard people say that the meaning of life is to find a purpose and to follow that purpose. Hence, why people spend a lot of time thinking about what they want to do with their lives. It’s also why people spend time thinking about how to create more meaning in their lives.
But there’s an entire piece that’s missing. Sure, that’s part of it. Humans want and need to feel useful. And usefulness comes in various forms depending on individual needs. So, yes, purpose and meaning are present in this overall definition.
But from my personal and professional experiences, working with many clients, the meaning of life is unbecoming and unlearning. Unbecoming and unlearning is what I spend most of the time exploring and questioning.
Before you pursue your purpose and before you can find meaning into your life––you must first unbecome who you currently are. You must first unlearn many ideals and concepts that shaped who you are.
It’s a radical and vulnerable thought.
Yes, there are core belief systems that are hard to rattle. Because there are certain aspects of your personality that might not budge much. Everyone has particular quirks that make them unique. But without unlearning, you won’t get from where you are now to where you desire to be.
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and he said the first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego; the second half is going inward and letting go of it.
In other words, every human being aims to form a healthy ego. By developing healthy egos, it allows you to navigate challenging life situations. But for you to transcend and stop self-sabotaging, you have to let go of something.
Letting go of who you are is uncomfortable because it brought much comfort and protection to you at one point in your life. But it no longer serves you today. Unlearning is humbling because you have to admit you never knew much, to begin with.
But Shunryu Suzuki, a Sōtō Zen monk and teacher who helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the United States, said, “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind, there are few.”
As you journey through life and you are developing yourself, know that resistance will creep up. This happens when you fight against this process of unbecoming and unlearning. Once you allow this unfolding to take place, the resistance loosens. Then you will ascend towards living a life that’s joyful.
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