“We make our universe significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers”. Carl Sagan
Renowned mythologist, Joseph Campbell, was often asked what the meaning of life is. He liked to respond that life is meaningless—that you give it meaning.
Let’s think about what this means for a moment.
Life is meaningless. You give it meaning.
Humans often give meaning to objects, memories, thoughts, actions and such. All objects are without meaning—or meaningless, until the human gives them meaning. A wedding ring for a bride is filled with meaning, whereas the same ring in another’s hand is perhaps devoid of any significance, outside of the value of the metal and stone.
Anything can be given meaning. Books have been given great meaning, throughout history, as have places of historical note and dates on the calendar.
How do we give things meaning? We endow them with such. We infuse things with meaning and as long as we continue to give meaning to something, it will hold meaning for us.
If one can give an object meaning, we can also choose to infuse our daily lives and actions with meaning.
Joseph Campbell came up with a great phrase, which can serve as a powerful tool for finding one’s personal meaning and one’s sense of self: “Follow your bliss.”
What does it mean to follow your bliss? Bliss is your joy. It is your feeling of happiness. What motivates you? What do you like to think about? What really gets your energies moving? What activities or pleasures cause you to lose all track of time, due to the joy you feel? Follow that.
Jim Hart is the founder of The Hart Technique, The International Theatre Academy Norway.
2012 Update: Jim Hart now serves as Director of Arts Entrepreneurship at SMU.