If there is one thing that I have learned during this pandemic, it is that we never know what’s around the corner! Whoever thought we would be dealing with all of this disruption? The truth is, research has shown that the average person goes through one disruptor every 12-18 months. Hard to believe! We all expect this linear path in life – grow up, go to college, get a great job, get married etc. And yes, some parts may turn out like this, and yet there is always something that shows up to get us off course, out of sync, or even out of order. This is when I love the quote from Jon Kabat Zinn which I say often, ” You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf!” It’s how we choose to respond to these waves or life’s transitions that makes all the difference. How well do we manage the challenge of making meaning in our lives as we move through these times? Bruce Feiler,in his book, Life is in the Transition calls these times in our lives – Lifequakes.
“Lifequakes are massive, messy, and often miserable. They come at inconvenient times that usually make them more inconvenient. But they do something else. They initiate a period of self-reflection and personal reevaluation. They force us to ask what we don’t ask often enough: What is it that gives me meaning and how does that influence the story of my life?
I often reflect on the fact that I am a human being not a human doing and of late I have added a human giving. So the question is what kind of person do I want to BE? How do I want to show up in the world in everything I engage in? What “shoulds” do I need to let go of? What gives me meaning and purpose? What do I choose to do with this life of mine? What story do I want to tell? Victor Frankl in his landmark book Man’s Search for Meaning has the message that even when humans face the worst and most unimaginable circumstances, humans can find hope. He said, “the key is to imagine a better time, to have a reason to live.” He quotes Nietzsche
Research has shown that in times of trauma people get stuck. Letting fo of the past, initiating a fresh start, and introducing a new story creates movement to get unstuck. That was then, this is now. Telling this new story to others is also helpful.
” I use to be that. Then I wnet through a life change. Now I am this.” Bruce Feiller
Life transitions happen many times in ones life whether it’s a health issue, career change or loss, divorce, death, loss of any kind, we all go through them. Our life meaning and purpose is altered by them. In a study by the eminent social scientist Roy Baumeister he talks about how meaning in ones life is of prime importance and taking events that can upend our lives and turning them into empathy, compassion and well-being can help us learn to make meaning from them.
“Humans may resemble many other creatures in their striving for happiness, but the quest for meaning is a key part of what makes us human, and uniquely so.” — Roy Baumeister et al. (2013)
Transitions, lifequakes, pandemics are challenging and they are not going away. It’s how we bring meaning to them that counts. What story will you tell about the time during the Covid Pandemic or other life transitions you may have encountered? What meaning and purpose will you take away? As always I would love to hear your comments below.