Personal circumstances are important considerations when exploring life’s meaning and purpose. In this short series, I am referring to content from Dr Eric Maisel’s book; ‘Life Purpose Boot Camp’. Maisel drives home some important points. One, meaning is a psychological experience and, as such, it is fickle and unpredictable. We can try and find meaning and even try unsuccessfully. We can make meaning investments, seize meaning opportunities. We can take charge.
More than one purpose!
Another important point is that notions of a single life purpose are fraught with risk of disappointment. Here, I want to point to what Maisel calls the ‘crucible of reality’, your own reality. Your own personal circumstances. Some of which may be need a little attention, or a lot!
Understanding and even changing circumstances is crucial to living life purposes. Your personal circumstances are your constraints, or at least they can be. It can be confronting to face reality squarely, preferring perhaps to avoid inconvenient truths. But the truth is; reality matters! It matters a lot. Making meaning that is based in your values is making meaning that is grounded in your circumstances. The ones that help and the ones that get in the way of progress.
Importance of attitude
Attitude is one part of addressing circumstances. It is not just useful but sensible to face personal realities with an attitude of resourcefulness but attitude is just one part of the deal. Facing circumstances, armed with a resourceful mindset facilitates action that is resourceful also. And it is usual for circumstances to require action above mere awareness.
For example, the notion of making a difference in the world, as noble as that may seem, cannot be pursued meaningfully while personal devastation of addiction is a feature of daily life. You cannot adequately lead a principled life while avoiding responsibilities.
7 circumstantial questions
Maisel asks 7 questions in order to guide you through the challenges of facing up to circumstances>
- What, in fact, are my circumstances? How can I really know what parts of life require attention?
- What circumstances do I most avoid confronting?
- What aspects of my personal experiences might I reasonably forget about because they don’t impact my capacity to live my life purposes? A nuisance can be a nuisance without interfering with my path to purpose!
- Could I adopt a better attitude to my circumstances to help me live my life purposes? Do i approach my circumstances with a victim mentality. “I cannot succeed with living my life purposes, I’m doomed…” does little to set the scene for great things to come.
- What actions can I take to repair circumstantial aspects of my life that are unhelpful? Some things we can control some things we cannot. Knowing the difference is a start. Knowledge is great, then comes the work! Actions will be particular for particular circumstances. Dealing with unhelpful habits can be a great start!
- What’s coming up ahead that I can prepare for? It’s not always possible to see all the lies ahead in life. But it is worthwhile to take a good look now and then.
- Can I make a simple way of keeping control of my realities? Simple steps such as choosing to journal progress, marking obstacles, detours from your path and returning to basic principles of making meaning investments are all useful tools in holding a good path.
The answers to the 7 circumstantial questions encourages a proactive approach to managing personal circumstances. Living life purposes, making meaning informed by values and principles, can be powerfully impacted by circumstances. Improvements in one greatly improves prospects for both meaning and purpose. If you stick to this short series I will have more soon.
Mental wellness, including freedom from anxiety and depression is greatly enhanced by connection to realistic goals, and a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Maisel’s contribution can help.