I know we’ve all asked the questions before.
“What is the meaning of life?”
What’s the point? Why are we all here? What is this all for?
I’m not going to pretend I have the answer. I’m not sure anyone really does. The point of this write-up is to address the fact that I am not sure it even really matters.
Enter the lab….. the lab known as your life!
A needle in a haystack
Trying to figure out the meaning of life is like trying to find a “needle in a haystack,” or is it?
When asking this age-old questions it seems like an impossible task to answer. That in its self is our problem. We constantly asking ourselves to many questions instead of acting and trying to produce results.
Finding a needle in a haystack is a tall task to accomplish if you take it at face value.
By that I mean, if someone were to ask us to find a needle in a haystack the first thought that probably comes to our mind is that this is going to be impossible. We’ve already defeated ourself before we have even begun. Negatives thoughts like this will only slow our motivation to complete the task, inhibit our cognitive ability to come up with alternative methods to solve the problem, and probably just put us in a pissy mood.
The first thing we would probably do is just say F-it and do absolutely nothing at all, turn our back, and walk away. We play the victim. This task is out of our control. There is no way we can accomplish it so we don’t even try. We leave the needle, we leave the haystack, WE leave. Continue on our typical path, routine, not to be bothered by such a cumbersome task.
Or, if we have some fight in us, we may just give it a shot. We walk over to the haystack and start searching. Pulling apart hay at a frantic pace with your bare hands in search of a needle. No real plan, no real method to the madness, and no real direction. All we know is that we are searching for a needle in a haystack. This may seem noble, or even fearless. But searching for a needle in a haystack with no real rhyme, reason, or method is only going to cause us a world of frustration.
For reference, this use to be me and honestly sometimes still is but I am getting better and better at recognize when I get into this mode.
The third thing we could do is make excuses.
“I don’t have time to search for a needle in a haystack.”
I’m to busy, I have too much work to do, I have more important things to accomplish, I (insert any excuse right here). We may even head home, plop down on the couch, turn on the TV or computer and distract ourselves with something else.
Finding a needle in a haystack. Lets try this again.
So is finding a needle in haystack impossible? Is it really that hard? You may also be asking what the hell this has to do with my life.
Life is like a…
Not like a box of chocolates. I’m not getting all Forrest Gump on you here.
Life is like one giant laboratory with you as the mad scientist.
Take advantage of the opportunity to create. Instead of walking away because something seems beyond your control, instead of haphazardly taking on any and all challenges, or instead of making any number or excuse or resorting to many numbing activities, just get started.
1. Create solutions to the problem. Instead of giving up because you feel as if something is impossible or out of your control find creative ways to solve the problem. Focus on what you want and get clever about how you can get there. Need to find a needle in a haystack? Do what these guys did.
2. Use past experiences as your guide. If you are not a baby chances are you have been on this earth a while and have had thousands upon thousands of personal experiences, challenges, and battles you have overcome. If you are a baby than I am super impressed you can read this.
Don’t let things you have dealt with, overcome, or even failed at in the past serve no purpose. Look to them when you need to in order to evaluate how you can accomplish things right now.
3. Don’t react — Instead respond. Reacting to situations can create unpredictable outcomes. It is based on emotion and irrationality and usually comes about when you are underpreparred or overwhelmed. Emotions like anger, jealousy, contempt, fear, and regret usually consume you. They control your decisions and dictate where you go.
Not all reacting is bad.
Remember the scene in Dodgeball when Patches O’Houlihan throws wrenches at the team instead of dodge balls? Well circumstances like that are when you want to react.
The problem arises when we pigeon-hole ourselves by the emotions we are feeling and let them control any outcomes.
Responding establishes control. It’s a difficult task and takes hard work and effort but once it has been established as a habit it becomes an extremely powerful tool. Learn to identify the problem, hear and see it, then take time to reflect. I know this may seem like a tall order and can take time but these steps can be accomplished in a matter of minutes and even seconds once mastered.
Let your knowledge, skills, and resources help you. Look to them. Look to them often.
3. See yourself as capable. See others this way as well. Envision yourself as capable of achieving any task, goal, or challenge. If you start of any situation doubting yourself you’re already defeated. See others this way as well. Envision those around you as powerful beings as well that can tackle anything. Help others feel strong and courageous. We all need a helping had every once in a while. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to build a powerful posse. Every so often we can’t go at it alone. Other times it’s just way more fun to try something new with a partner.
Try riding the teeter-totter by yourself, or let me know how fun playing poker alone is. I’ve taken a few sky-diving trips by myself and the experience was awesome! However, I have also gone with a few pals and this simply made it that much more exciting and amazing!
Try finding a needle in a haystack alone. One, probably not much fun. Two, probably takes you that much longer. Now do it with a posse and chances are you get a little crazy, have a little fun, and create some long-lasting memories.
Ask the right questions
What do I want?
What is my intention here?
Does this situation define me?
Assess your current situation. What is it exactly and what can it be? Like the needle in a haystack. What seems like an insurmountable, mundane, and daunting task can prove to be an opportunity to learn about yourself, abilities, creativity, and an amazing challenge that it accomplished can propel you forward to even bigger and better things.
Take baby steps and be patient. Somewhere in your laboratory chances are you will screw some things up and that baking soda volcano won’t exactly erupt.
The important thing is to put back on the goggles, evaluate what went wrong, and try again.
You’ve found it… Now what
I was exchanging emails with my friend Steffi (whom you all probably are familiar with by now) the other day and we got to talking about this post.
We got to discussing whether or not finding that needle in a haystack or the meaning of life even matters that much.
So you’ve found it… now what?
Does having a clear definition of your life really make it that much more fulfilling then it already is? Chances are that once you’ve found the needle you look back and say that the real meaning, the real adventure, and the REAL fun was the story you created while in pursuit.
Smile more, be healthier, live without limits.
Don’t write an ending to a story before it’s been told. Turn those blank pages, take out your number 2, and start creating. Don’t be afraid to use the eraser every so often if you need to.
What story do you want to tell?
52 books in 52 weeks:
A special thank you to The Power of TED* which got me thinking about this.