The sub-title of this Probaway blog is “Many helpful hints on living your life more successfully.” and I have 3,270 articles posted on that general topic. This afternoon I attended a lecture on the subject of suicide presented by a person who attempted suicide a single time about forty years ago. The lecture was about what he did in the meantime that made his life meaningful. While his talk was about what he was consciously thinking about, which was his inner-soul-directed misery, his life was directed toward helping troubled kids. As I was listening to his lecture it seemed this external work was what was helping him survive his inner demons. In my current frame of mind my thoughts on the stages of human maturity are – Infant, Child, Adolescent, Adult, Mature, and Sage.
In that structured view, thinking about your inner-self is the infant lifestyle. That is because the structure of maturity as described in the sequence above goes from totally within one’s self’s well-being as an infant to totally externalized toward the well-being of humanity as a sage. Taking care of kids, even other people’s kids, is an adult way of behavior, and it helped this man to have a more positive relationship with himself and to move beyond suicide.
In the book, (to be published in January 2017) The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith the chapter titles follow the same trend that I saw in this man’s life. The chapter titles are – The Meaning Crisis – Belonging – Purpose – Storytelling – Transcendence – Growth – Cultures of Meaning. This book and this man’s life follow in part the 1930 book by Will Durant – On the Meaning of Life, which is quoted on page 37 –
“To Durant, meaning arises from transcending the self. ‘If, as we said at the outset,’ he writes, ‘a thing has significance only through its relation as part to a larger whole, then, though we cannot give a metaphysical and universal meaning to all life in general, we can say of any life in particular that its meaning lies in relation to something larger than itself.’ The more you connect with and contribute to that something, Durant believed, the more meaningful your life is. For Durant specifically, that ‘something’ was work and family.”
I immediately went online, purchased Durant’s book and read it carefully. It was a bit disappointing because it was based on letters solicited from the famous people of 1930 about what made their life meaningful. In my previous post I concluded –
This is a book of 144 pages that gives the motivations of some of the famous people of the 1920s. It is easy reading and seems to say that even our greatest people are like journeymen workers, just doing the jobs they are destined to do by their choice of life goals for themselves and humanity.
Those people’s lives didn’t seem as transcendent, in their own words, as our modern reminiscences about them seem to imply. What was lacking in all of these people’s works was an over-arching method for achieving a higher state of being. The statement – work and family – doesn’t seem like much of a transcendent goal. It was Sigmund Freud’s sum of significance, but it doesn’t energize me. Even the two thousand-year-old Golden Rule as stated by Jesus in the King James Version of the Bible is much better. “All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you do ye even so unto them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” The key word here is should and not as in the later versions translated as would, because should has much more demanding ambitions for one’s behavior. It takes a person from fulfilling their own desires with what one would want for themselves at their current state of being and thrusts them into a much higher pursuit of doing what they should do to attain to heaven.
I have proposed in How to mature from Infantile to Sage and beyond that we can attain to a higher state of personal being by choosing to behave in the most mature way available to us at the moments we are feeling emotionally good, and situationally where we have options. This method is more easily applied than Jesus’s method. Although it may not get you to Heaven, it will get you to a much happier place and to an old age of contentment.