I have been rereading the same article for weeks now and each time learning more. It is not necessarily that I am slow, but more that it has something to say that resonates richly with me.
Four Ways to Bring More Meaning to Your Life, by Eric Barker, writing for The Week, has a message for anyone searching for relevance in the world. He doesn’t speak of success, and there is nothing necessarily religious in his message, although there is certainly a significant place for religion in his advice.
Basically, he offers these four related pieces of advice (I’ve included my own commentary, for what it may be worth):
- Belong to a group. We need each other, and we also need, in some way, to be there for others in need. It is a basic human need. One’s group may be small and informal, or for some that group may be a church, synagogue or mosque. Beware of considering work as a group, because one’s belonging may be deceptive, whence the term, “work friends.”
- Have a Purpose. I happen to teach, but it is not about the subject matter. It is about preparing law students for life as an attorney, a transition that is difficult without training or a mentor.
- Embrace Storytelling. This, it seems to me, is a way to give a personal context to oner’s purpose. I love to relate how a Korean student now gives me a hug each time I see him, simply because I believe in him and have encouraged him.
- Know Transcendence. Know and have a role in the bigger world. In that context, your problems are small, but your place matters. I’m reading Einstein’s God, by Krista Tippet, in which some of the foremost minds ponder questions of religion, meaning and transcendence.
I suggest to my students that they evaluate various aspects of their lives and careers periodically. When all is said and all is done, that is good advice for anyone, including myself.