#8 /// Dear Future Self – What’s the meaning of life?

by | Jul 20, 2022 | future self

Photo by me from my archive.

Dear future self,

What is the meaning of life?

For me right now, the meaning of life, I suppose, is a mix of being and becoming, it’s being present and open to evolving freely.

The meaning of life is to go beyond what we know.

It’s experiencing what’s here now and to take that experience as something that opens us up for deeper levels of experiencing.

I think this is true for all, something that is independent of a certain belief-system, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

The grass is being and becoming grass, the bird is being and becoming bird, dear reader, you are being and becoming you, I’m being me and becoming myself more fully, with every time I dare to go beyond what I’m used to.

So while this might be true for us all, it is not that I didn’t come to this realization without a way of viewing the world.

Personally, I believe in a greater consciousness. I believe that all that is, is part of that greater consciousness.

I quite liked the description from Eckhart Tolle: What is, what we see and what we are, is the universe breathing out, constant movement and evolving.

Evolution in action.

We come out of that greater consciousness, take on a body, and eventually go back to being part of that greater consciousness. Maybe becoming another body, perhaps not.

I believe that we have not really started or ended, that we continuously are and we inter-are, even while in different bodies and forms. None of us can survive independently.

And none of us can understand or put in words the complexity that constitutes our lives (alone), none of us (alone) can reproduce what we have.

None of us is God or the origin, but we’re each a part of it. We together are life, no one of us represents all life, yet we each constitute an essential and important part.

What do you believe in?

Whether we agree on this or not, is not relevant, though, when it comes to answering the question of the meaning of life.

Because we might as well just have this one lifetime, go to heaven or hell after or dissolve into nothingness.

What counts is how we use our lifetime and the meaning we give to the life we have.

I grew up with Christianity as the dominant concept in society, I grew up believing in God, but had my doubts about Christianity.

The concept of heaven and hell never made sense to me. It’s funny how there can be an instant connection with some ideas and not with others.

When I first heard about Buddhism as a teenager and learned that the soul could live on and one could be reborn, there was an instant feeling of: Yes, finally something is making sense.

And Buddhism has always been that way to me. Whatever I read or heard about different concepts in Buddhism, they just made sense, there was, is an immediate feeling of: Yes, right.

But a lot of what is said in Buddhism is also present in other wisdom traditions. Becoming an anthropologist, I studied quite a few.

One concept that I will always remember is that of people living for their dreams. Giving what happens in their dreams the most importance and using the day simply to maintain body and culture to keep on dreaming.

There are so many ways in which we can make sense of this life, yet while these may all be existentially different, they are also just that, concepts.

They all centre around or somehow deal with this body that allows us to be, the mind that makes up stories and the life force that makes both, stories and bodies possible.

So, the meaning of life, as it makes sense for us to think about while we’re here, has to be within that period of time that we are alive in this body.

Life is in our being and becoming, and what we do in this time, in which we are alive, depends on the meaning we give our lives.

So, the meaning of life, becomes the meaning we give our lives. And if that meaning is in being and becoming, then the only way to experience life fully is by fully being and becoming.

But how deeply we can be and become, depends on the openness we have towards life and the possibilities we allow ourselves to have.

As I see it, and as many others do too, we have two options:

Number one is what is called a fixed mindset, which means to believe that we are a certain way, things are a certain way and we have to arrange ourselves with these circumstances as good as we can.

What would the meaning of life be in this case? I guess, to learn to accept life as it is and to try to fit in, as much as possible.

To become comfortable with the uncomfortable. I can’t see that as fully being and becoming. I see that as arranging yourself with the limitations.

To me, this feels like limiting your breath, trying to adjust your breath to the surrounding irregularities, than a life that is part of breathing out and evolving.

It’s quite interesting to think of this in terms of Darwin and his theory of Evolution.

First we thought survival of the fittest meant survival of the strongest, which I suppose is the basic belief of colonialism, then, it meant survival of the most well-adjusted.

Which describes the times and places I’ve grown up in most adequately.

Now it seems to be survival of the one who can best adapt to the ever-changing circumstances, the one who is capable of change. Which leads to the second option.

Option number two of viewing life would be to live with a growth mindset, which means believing that we ourselves have the possibility not only to change ourselves, but by changing ourselves to also change our circumstances.

It leads us to a view of the world in which we are powerful and can be creative, forming, growing, learning, experiencing, becoming, expanding. We become part of the ever evolving out breath.

This is the option under which I work, and live, and why I believe my work to be so important and empowering.

It is what helped me to overcome feeling disempowered, overwhelmed, pessimistic, depressed.

The second I realized that I had the power to decide how I wanted to see the world, that I did not have to participate in the stories I heard around me any more and could just be, be me, I started to live freely and joyfully.

Not in a day, change takes time and to overcome beliefs and stories one has to take the time to look at them, but the more I did, the lighter things became.

For the first time I didn’t feel fenced in any more, like I had to try to fit in, like I had to be a certain way to be accepted, to do or have certain things to be worthy.

Life instantly became so overwhelmingly beautiful.

I changed my mindset, overcame and am still constantly overcoming learned limitations and it’s so wonderful to be able to share this with  other people and to teach them, maybe you too,  how to do the same.

I support people to first build the resilience to cope and feel powerful and hopeful, to adjust to the ever-changing world and then, to even go beyond that, and liberate themselves more and more.

When it comes to fixed vs. growth mindset, as it is with all things, there’s barely anyone who has a pure fixed or growth mindset, people usually operate somewhere in-between these two ends of the spectrum, feeling powerful and able to change in some ways, but not in others.

But many people, including myself, have been brought up with a more fixed mindset.

Which means we were raised to believe that there are things we can achieve or change, but there are others that are beyond our capabilities.

Many of us were brought up with a belief in limitation and might have experienced these limitations first hand.

This may be because of our gender, the colour of our skin, our sexuality, our weight, physical abilities because we belong to a certain class, tribe, culture or family and so on.

Yet, people of all backgrounds do the impossible and overcome common limitations all the time.

I agree with Henry Ford on this one: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

The limitations are there, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome.

Yet, often we don’t only think we can’t, we can’t even imagine a life and possibilities beyond those limitations and what we know.

Again, this is why I do my work as a coach, to help people go beyond what they can imagine, to think further and go further than they have experienced — yet.

And this also leads back to the beginning: the question of the meaning of life.

This world has and will always be evolving, with or without our doing.

We can try and struggle to adjust to unforeseeable events, and blame our misfortune on others and the circumstances.

Or we can take our lives into our own hands, become alive, filled with excitement and appreciation for what is and what we are, and use our situation to grow beyond what we thought possible.

For me, the meaning of life is in filling it with experiencing, it is in overcoming thoughts of limitation, it’s in experiencing the present moment as fully as possible, and to remove whatever I can that blocks me from experiencing the flow of life.

We are born out of the pure and magical power of life, an evolving out breath.

Growing up, we learn culturally created limitations. Yet, that doesn’t mean we cannot unlearn them again.

We can live life fully or within limitations. Even if we can’t overcome all limitations, we can always work with what we can reach and go beyond those that we can overcome.

Because for all we know, we might just have this one lifetime, and whether that is true or not, we might as well make the best of it.

How fully are you living your life?

Have a wonderful day,

Love,
Verena

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► Dear FUTURE SELF

This series is a documentation of a journey into the unknown.

It shows vulnerability and how shame, prejudice, judgement and fear can be present, and overcome. It’s about admitting mistakes and acknowledging how easily we can be wrong, no matter how mindful, present, in tune and aware we are.

But most of all it’s about celebrating life in all its different forms and shapes, colours and sounds and tastes, in depth and lightness – life’s endless beauty and continuous unfolding. We are all a part of life’s magnificence, the question is: How much of it do we allow ourselves to enjoy and experience?

The more we open up and liberate ourselves from what we thought we knew, the more we try to see things in new ways and the more love we share, the more magical life becomes.

May our future selves [continue to] experience life wholeheartedly.

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