Day #36: Mini-Meanings Boost Mojo

"What is the meaning of my life?"

The meaning explored in this question refers to why my life is important to me. Questions about the meaning of my life tend to open up more questions and prompt me to reflect on what I'm doing and why, how I'm living, and who I am. 

Fully loaded question hey?

Meaningful Science

The science of meaning in our life is incredibly interesting. Researchers agree that living with meaning has a positive impact on our health, happiness, performance and relationships. 

Michael Steger is an awesome academic in the area of meaning and quality of life if you're interested in taking a look at some research. Amidst a bunch of interesting topics he researches, Todd Kashdan is another who does very interesting work on meaning. 

Mini-Meaning

There is lots of research looks at big meaning - the fully loaded investigation into who we are and what makes life awesome. However, I think it helps to practice what I call "mini-meaning". It's a mindfulness exercise not unlike the daily gratitude practice we have seen boom in positive psychology. Many people benefit from noticing 3 or 5 things they are grateful for each day. It's a nice exercise and I encourage people to look into it. 

Mini-Meaning is similar, but focuses on experiences of our day that can or have been meaningful. For example, at the start of the day we can look at what is in store for us that is aligned with our sense of meaning. In the middle of our day we can check in on the meaning we associate with the days tasks past, present, and future. Finally, we can practice mini-meaning at the end of the day like the way people practice gratitude - noticing the day's events that were meaningful for us.

Here's a little example of how I use Mini-Meaning in the morning to boost my mojo for the day. 

Morning Mini-Meaning

Today I have to:

  1. Connect with clients about ongoing and prospective work

  2. Practice mindfulness meditation

  3. Publish an (En)Lighten Up! post

  4. Write more of my book

  5. Make time for a healthy lunch

  6. Respond to a bunch of emails and calls

  7. Get to a yoga class

  8. Spend time with friends

  9. Invest time with my daughter Ayla - feeding, playing, reading, bath time, bed time

  10. Have quality time with my beautiful wife into the evening

I gear my mindset towards recognising, acknowledging, and appreciating the meaning already associated with the tasks of the day. With this mindset it's quite easy for me to see that 9/10 tasks have a bunch of meaning embedded in them. That is, I don't need to add more to my day for it to be meaningful. It will be meaningful. Seeing that 90% of my day is inherently meaningful brings me mojo - the alignment and motivation that fuels my engagement for the day ahead. 

You stuck on the missing 10%? Let's take a look and see if there actually is hidden meaning...

I bet you can guess which one of the 10 is a challenge, can't you?

Yep, it's number 6. And here is where the rubber hits the road. It's things like email and phone calls that can provide a great example of how mini meaning can build our mojo. Although email and phone can feel like a burdensome part of the daily grind for many people these days, there can be meaning.

Now that my day is complete, I realise that the emails and calls I brought my mojo to were meaningful. I gave my attention - myself - in service of others through email and phone. I believe I have been more of a help than a hindrance with my communications today. That provides me with a sense of meaning.

Ok, cool. Although it's unrealistic to expect each day will end with 100% meaning, today seems to have been a nice mini-meaning win. Time to appreciate the evening with friends, daughter, and wifey as planned :)