We often begin the new year thinking about what new things we want to accomplish. Learning Mandarin, taking a class in stained glass, vacuuming your living room more regularly. There’s that spurt of energy for the new, leaving something behind. But what have you done this last year that you are particularly happy about? You are a survivor. You’ve gotten this far past lots of obstacles. Think about what has given you joy recently and write about it.
Living a meaningful life is as simple as storytelling
PBS Interview of Emily Esfahani, Author, “The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters,”
by Hari Sreenivasan, March 10, 2017
We all want to know that our lives amount to more than the sum of our experiences. We all need a why to help us get through the good and the bad of life.
So, what is a meaningful life? Social science points to one defining feature. You connect and contribute to something beyond yourself. That could be your family, your work, nature, or God.
And when people say their lives are meaningful, it’s because three conditions have been satisfied: They believe their lives matter, they have a sense of purpose that drives them forward, and they think their lives are coherent and make sense.
It sounds like a lot, but that last point is something you can do right now. People tell me the simple act of storytelling gives meaning, or can at least clear the path to it. That, I think, might explain the rise of rap and hip-hop and the popularity of the radio series “StoryCorps” and “The Moth.”
Making a narrative out of the events in your life provides clarity. It offers a framework that goes beyond the day-to-day. It’s the act itself, and not necessarily sharing their story with others, that helps people make sense of themselves and their lives. And we all have the power to tell or to re-tell our life story in more positive ways.
The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily—perhaps not possibly—chronological. The time as we know it subjectively is often the chronology that stories and novels follow: it is the continuous thread of revelation.
Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings
"People tell me the simple act of storytelling gives meaning, or can at least clear the path to it,"says Emily Esfani Smith in her book “The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters." That act is what Guided Autobiography is about, matching words to memories, reliving them and also coming to peace with them. They arise vividly when we search for them.