What does it all mean? – Food Pharmacy

Helena Önneby

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What does it all mean?

I facilitated a workshop on the theme of Trust the other day. We talked about trust in oneself and in life in general. We got into the question of meaning and how we can find meaning in what happens in our lives. Someone reflected: “I can see the meaning in most things that happen in my life, but not when something really rough happens, then everything feels meaningless.” It made me think about meaning and meaning-making. And that I believe that life has the meaning we give it.

There’s so much we humans don’t know. But because uncertainty is so difficult for us, we create meaning where we can. Without actually knowing, we choose to give things meaning and over time, repeated thoughts, it becomes a truth for us.

We were supposed to meet.

The meaning of my life is to be a parent to my children.

I was not supposed to get that job.

Meaning is something we create, something we choose. When we choose meaning, there is meaning. When we choose meaninglessness, there is no meaning. I believe that the same principle applies to both the big and the small. It’s just a little easier to apply on the small than on the large.

I don’t mean to direct us all towards doubt and questioning with this reasoning, on the contrary. I mean, everything can be meaningful if we choose it. And that we choose our truth by repeating our thoughts, by writing our own story.

“A belief is nothing but a thought you keep thinking.”

– Wayne Dyer

I have chosen to believe that I experienced a lot of physical illness early in my life so that I would learn important things that I am incredibly grateful for today. Of course, I don’t know that that’s true but I have thought the thought enough times that my brain is now convinced and I continue to gather evidence. It’s called confirmation bias. Once you have chosen what you want to believe, the brain will be good at gathering evidence that your worldview is correct.

Many people who have been through horrible things in their lives have chosen to make sense of it, for their own well-being. It’s possible. Much of our world today is the invention of humans. We’ve chosen our norms, what’s right and wrong in different contexts, how to behave in a Western society, what a good life should look like… We have a common agreement on many of those things. So why could you not be able to make an agreement with yourself about how you choose to interpret what is happening in your life?

I heard the author Elizabeth Gilbert in an interview, shortly after the love of her life had died: “Of course I would prefer that Rayya was still here. But now that she’s not; what life am I being called to live? What life can I only live now that she’s no longer here? ”

Elizabeth did not ignore her grief and anger that her person in life had died. But she also chose to accept what happened and create meaning. What life do I live now? What life am I called to live right now?

I’m not saying any of this is easy and I think we’re wise to start practicing with the small stuff. What’s the point of me missing the bus? What was the point of encountering that person in town today? What’s the point of me getting into this same situation over and over again?

Your life has the meaning you choose to give it. What does it all mean?

This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.



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