On his blog, Donald Miller asks “What makes a meaningful life?” And in part he answered:
Viktor Frankl spent most of his life studying the mystery of meaning, and amazingly, he came up with a prescription for how we can experience it ourselves.
His prescription was remarkably simple:
1. Have a project you’re working on that requires your unique skills and abilities. And preferably a project that helps others.
2. Share your experience within the context of safe, loving relationships.
3. Find a redemptive perspective on your suffering and challenges.
I found myself saying, yes, yes, yes. Purpose, connection, and redemptive suffering, that does about sum up the kind of life I want to live. And we are also circling back to earlier ideas we’ve touched on here at Velvet Ashes – in particular I’m thinking of the time and space we collectively invested in discussing and wrestling with suffering.
Brene moves us from a meaningful life and with Guidepost #9 has us looking at meaningful work. We’re a group familiar with the idea of calling, aren’t we? I’d be willing to bet many of us had to discuss our calling during the interview/vetting process if you are some form of support. Now, please understand I think it calling in our line of work IS important. But I also think we can elevate it, at times, to almost idol-like status. And we can rank what we consider to be worthy callings. And if we have it too nice, you might as well know that some of the “meaning” of your work just went down the drain.
I’d ask for a show of hands as to who has troubles explaining what they do in a neat and tidy answer. But then I wouldn’t be able to see you over the sea of hands. Part of it is that we have our own lingo that those outside of the biz don’t know. You’d think I’d learn, but I still blithely talk about Member Care when people ask about my job and more often than not am greeted by blank stares. Oh, right, people don’t use CP, fellowships, member care, or TCKs as a part of their everyday vocab.
But it’s more than just vocabulary, we have gone a bit off script as to what the world says is meaningful. I am a “slash” person as Brene calls it. I live a slash life. I know slash people. And so do you. And more important, so are you.
If only it were all rosy, right? Sadly, we too know the underbelly of “supposed-to’s” and have added to them with a “bless her heart!” Isn’t she supposed to spend more time educating her kids, bless her heart? Isn’t the husband supposed to be the head of the house? What’s he doing washing dishes, bless his heart? Isn’t she supposed to trust God for a husband? What’s she doing on e-harmony, bless her heart?
Brene suggests looking at our “supposed to list” and asking “Who says?” and “Why?” A big one of my supposed to is around work. I’m supposed to work from 8 to 5 right? Except we don’t have those kinds of jobs, so this “supposed to” is the one I wrestle with the most as I try to live out meaningful work in a non-traditional context.
How about you, what stood out in this chapter? How are you with cultivating meaningful work into your normal everyday life? What are the challenges of letting go of supposed tos? What subtle ways does our line of work impact your understanding and relationship with meaningful and supposed tos??
P.S. Here are the posts related to The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown:
- Introductory chapters (doesn’t that seem a while ago?)
- The things that get in the way and Guidepost #1 –Cultivating Authenticity
- Guidepost #2 –Cultivating Self-Compassion
- Guidepost #3-– Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting go of numbing and powerlessness
- Guidepost #4 — Cultivating Gratitude and Joy
- Guidepost #5 — Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith
- Guidepost #6 –Cultivating Creativity
- Guidepost #7— Cultivating Play and Rest
- Guidepost #8 — Cultivating Calm and Stillness