Meaning, Happiness and Purpose

By Aaran Sohl


At TIA we’ve adopted a wellness framework based on knowing that two of the most important things in life are connecting to inner truth and stillness, and self-expression to make a positive impact on the world. To help guests find meaning in life, we draw inspiration from The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith, whose book focuses on the feeling of belonging (being fully accepted for who you are and what you feel and think (not what you do or what you give); the experience of transcendence (experiencing an intuitive connection to life or an intelligence that creates it), having purpose (a skill or service you enjoy giving that contributes to the world in a positive way) and healthy storytelling (being able to see yourself as a hero to overcome negative past experiences and build resilience)


We have woven these principles into our programs (internal link) and assessment (internal link) to help you find which principle itis right for you to focus on now. Let’s dive deeper into each of these four areas of meaning to better understand them, and why happiness is not the most important thing in life.


1. The feeling of belonging


In Buddhism, there are three gems — the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The feeling of belonging has to do with the third principle – Sangha – the spiritual community. When you have an uplifting community you that encourages you to find your own way, you feel at home and like you belong. But how to find this type of community? Often our families do not offer this, and our friends and colleagues may put pressure on us to fit in. The first step to finding community is acknowledging who you really are and want to be. Otherwise you will not be able to attract people that will validate and reflect back how good you really are! In our Creative Possibility Stillness retreat, we offer the opportunity to look within and take steps towards reconnecting to the authentic self.


2. The experience of transcendence


The Buddhist gem of Buddha comes into play in this component of living a meaningful life. You don’t have to be enlightened or even spiritual. This principle simply points the way towards a greater mystical experience of yourself and the world around you. The experience of transcendence allows you to feel connected to distant stars and the entire cosmos, as well as little hopping frogs or crawling lizards. It allows you to feel clean and rested when you are sitting by a river out in nature, or even in your own vegetable garden at home. Without the ability to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves, we often get lost in everyday problems and lack perspective in life, and self-appreciation. In our Creative Possibilities Stillness retreat, we offer perspectives and practices that may help you see yourself as part of a greater whole and create more appreciation and love in your life.


3. Having purpose


In Hector Garcia, Francesc Miralles’s book Ikigai he describes purpose as the overlap of these four areas:


What you love to do
What you can earn an income doing
What serves your community
What you are good at


When you find something in life that fits all four, you have found your purpose. And yet it doesn’t have to be something huge that you do or accomplish. Playing a small part in a team or company that has a positive mission is serving the world positively. Maybe you don’t have grand ideas about how to make the world a better place. Maybe you have no idea what you love to do and you need time to explore. You can explore that while volunteering in your community. You can collaborate with a company that has a positive mission. Start with one of the four areas and then gradually explore the rest. Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t found your purpose yet – just do your best to serve your community in some way — this is always a good place to start. In our Creative Possibility Splash retreat, we offer you journaling prompts and self-inquiry practices to help guide you towards these four areas of life purpose.


4. Healthy Storytelling


The fourth component of living a meaningful life is related to the saying often offered in calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh, ‘No Mud, No Lotus’. The ability to see positivity in difficult times is crucial to a meaningful life. If you can reflect on past challenges (your ‘mud’) which have provided opportunities to learn, grow and help others (your ‘lotus’), then you have turned the ugly into beauty.


Healthy storytelling is not about ignoring pain or the need for support (remember the importance of belonging). It is crucial to find a community that will accept and love you for exactly who you are, where you can heal any trauma. It is after finding stillness within the mud that your core seed grows to become the lotus, and you find meaning in the difficult times. In our Creative Possibilitiy Splash retreat, we offer practices that help you find perspective to build a more purposeful life and serve your community.


5. Happiness


Happiness is an emotion. We feel happy when we get what we want; when a person we love offers us attention; when we buy ourselves something; when we a lot of likes on Facebook. But happiness quickly fades. And if you don’t have meaning in your life, you will be stuck chasing moments produced by the outside world. Meaning, on the other hand, is something you create within. It is the way you look at the world and how you interact with it. When you follow intuition, you feel proud of yourself. And acknowledging self-worth is more important than happiness. Honoring your inner stillness, while making a splash in the world makes life worth living. Chasing moments of happiness often only leads to suffering.


If you seek a deeper truth within and wish to explore your creative possibilities, please join us on our Creative Possibility retreat. If you seek a meaningful holiday that allows you more time to rest with less structure, please join our Creative Energy stay.


~ Aaran is co-founder of A Luminary Life. Together with an incredible team he helped create the Creative Energy and Creative Possibility stays at TIA resort.

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