Sometimes, writing away all alone in my office, I too yearn. Like anyone, I yearn to connect with others like me. So the other day I went to Google and entered these words: ‘Meaning Makers.’
A bunch of stuff came up, but what caught my eye was a hit for 15 Meaningful Experiences. BINGO!
The 15 meanings were determined to be universal values across culture and language (based on a series of interviews.) I can’t take any credit for coming up with this amazing list. It’s from a wonderful book called: Making Meaning: How Successful Businesses Deliver Meaningful Customer Experiences. Though the list was intended to help businesses offer their clients meaningful experiences, the list is completely applicable to all aspects of our human lives. I found it fascinating reading.
Here are the 15 Meaningful Experiences, with commercial applications omitted because I’m most interested in the personal aspect of their work. I’d love to hear which ones resonated for you.
Achieving goals and making something of oneself; a sense of satisfaction that can result from productivity, focus, talent, or status.
The appreciation of qualities that give pleasure to the senses or spirit. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder and thus highly subjective, but our desire for it is ubiquitous. We aspire to beauty in all that surrounds us, from architecture and fine furnishing to clothing and cars.
A sense of unity with others around us and a general connection with other human beings. Religious communities, unions, fraternities, clubs, and sewing circles are all expressions of a desire for belonging.
The sense of having produced something new and original, and in so doing, to have made a lasting contribution. Anything that represents our personal choices: propagation, hobbies, home decor, our stories.
The willing application of oneself to a responsibility. The military in any country counts on the power of this meaning, as do most employers. Duty can also relate to responsibilities to oneself or family.
Clear understanding through logic or inspiration. This experience is not limited to those who meditate and fast, it is also a core expectation for fair and balanced news sources, environmental organizations, etc.
The sense of living without unwanted constraints. This experience often plays tug-of-war with the desire for security; more of one tends to decrease the other.
The balanced and pleasing relationship of parts to a whole, whether in nature, society, or an individual. When we seek a work/life balance, we are in pursuit of harmony. Much of the aesthetic appeal of design depends on our personal desire for the visual experience of harmony.
The assurance of equitable and unbiased treatment. This is the sense of fairness and equality that underlies our concept of “everyman” or Average Joe.
A sense of unity with everything around us. It is what some seek from the practice of spirituality and what others expect from good tequila.
Atonement or deliverance from past failure or decline. Though this might seem to stem from negative experiences, the impact of the redemptive experience is highly positive. Any sensation that delivers us from a less desirable condition to another, more pleasing, one can be redemptive.
The freedom from worry about loss. This experience has been a cornerstone of civilization but in the U.S. in particular, acquired increased meaning and relevance after 9/11.
A commitment to honesty and integrity. This experience plays an important role in most personal relationships.
The recognition of oneself as a valued individual worthy of respect.
Awe in the presence of a creation beyond one’s understanding.
The important moments of our lives pass by so quickly. Take time to reflect. What values stood out for you?
Michele Davidson, Master Celebrant & Seeker of Meaning