“What’s the Meaning of Life?”
I would have been the wrong person to ask one August morning in 1988, just over a year after graduating from Harvard. I was sitting on the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey, trying to decide whether to jump off. To me, life was without meaning or hope.
I'd been battling major depression, anxiety and ADHD without treatment since age 12, and by 23, life had become unbearable.
I stared down at the distant Hudson River for an agonizing 20 minutes. Imagining my mom getting the worst phone call any mom can get is all that prevented me from ending my life.
But I continued to be obsessed with suicide, and had nothing changed, it would have been a matter of time.
Well, I’m glad I stuck around. Because everything changed.
In 2016, I got shocking news that explained a lot: All along, I’d had an easily treatable genetic condition which is linked to depression, anxiety, ADHD and mild Bipolar Disorder, which developed in my 20s.
Fortunately, those illness are treatable to a point without knowing the root cause. And treat them I did (with some help) by any means necessary.
For the next 28 years, I constantly searched for solutions of all kinds to enhance my emotional well-being and compensate for having brain chemistry that was never quite right.
An anti-depressant pulled me back from the brink in September 1988.
I was hardly jumping for joy. But jumping off a bridge was off the table. I felt ok, and for me, that was a lot.
When I started to feel better, I felt motivated at work, started going out at night, and caught up with family and friends.
Things started to feel meaningful. Even bantering with a friendly deli owner each morning seemed have meaning.
SO, WHAT'S THE MEANING OF LIFE?
We take a fascinating look at the question as part of our Tame Your Mind, Love Your Life Workshop, but for starters, here are two of my several responses:
1) The Meaning of Life is a matter of opinion!
2) The Meaning of Life depends on how you look at it.
#2 is deeper than it sounds. Your view of the Meaning of Life and how much meaning you experience from day to day depends on the clarity or cloudiness of your lens on life. That hinges greatly on your level of emotional well-being.
It was no coincidence that life seemed meaningless when I was also suicidally depressed – when I was numb, couldn't feel a thing, couldn’t even cry.
As things improved over time, I learned that meaning isn't just an ideal, something to do, an overall purpose you define.
Meaning is something you feel.
It’s an ingredient in all warmhearted emotions. There’s no such thing as “meaningless love,” or meaningless kindness, compassion, fulfillment, etc.
The better your emotional well-being is, the more meaning you'll feel and see.
If your lens is clouded with worry, stress and resentment, you’ll see a different world than if your lens is happiness, fulfillment and love. And you may define your life’s purpose in a different way.
Why are happiness, fulfillment and love so hard to maintain? Do you ever feel like you're doing all the right things - living close to your purpose - but feel an underlying, on-and-off dissatisfaction and restlessness? That whatever goal or milestone you reach, it only brings fleeting satisfaction, to be replaced by a sense of lack and a need to fill void by seeking something more or someone else?
That can suck meaning out of your life. When you expend so much effort seeking satisfaction and "doing the right thing" and you still feel lousy, you can play "meaningful" roles in life and still wonder, "What's the point?"
If this sounds familiar, it's because your lens is not only cloudy, it's too narrow -- zoomed in on goals and pursuits that by nature can never supply enduring satisfaction.
By all means pursue them. But if you're going to find maximum meaning and enduring satisfaction, you have to zoom out, because there really is more to life.
Genetically, I was born with a clouded lens. Alongside having a demanding career in communications at leading companies, including a three-year stint as a wellness blogger -- and raising two delightful, quirky kids who never cease to amuse or amaze me --- I sought to clear my lens by immersing myself in many approaches: Eastern and Western. Mainstream and alternative. Ancient and modern. Medicinal and herbal. You name it.
Some of them helped, and were powerful in their own ways. But similar themes kept cropping up: Expensive, time-consuming, complicated, very gradual, or “What exactly is therapeutic about therapy?”
HAS A SINGLE APPROACH EVER MADE YOU HAPPY?
Maybe you’ve been there. You’ve made progress, but nothing has been a cure-all, and lasting peace and happiness have eluded you.
But when I combined and improvised on some of these healing traditions, well, that was a different story.
I experimented with and developed hundreds of techniques and reminders (thoughts to instantly improve your mindset).
Basically by accident, I developed a simple yet ultra-powerful system that was both practical for my hectic life and fulfilling to the soul.
It harnessed the power of several approaches without the rigid constraints of any single path, while maintaining their scientific bases.
It cleared my lens and broadened it.
Gradually, depression, anxiety, ADHD and Bipolar 2 went from monkeys on my back to nipping at my heels to disappearing in the rear-view mirror.
It hadn’t been easy. And I never lost a gut feeling that “something else” was wrong. But when I turned 50 in 2016, I didn’t think I could feel any better.
Then a lab test revealed a severe form of genetic defect that can substantially reduce production of neurotransmitters that support emotional well-being.
I have a brilliant, acclaimed doctor, but when she ordered a prescribed vitamin supplement, I didn’t expect much.
It’s hard to describe, but within six weeks, my whole system relaxed. My mind went clear and silent. It was free of worry, static, stress and distraction that had greatly diminished over time, but never vanished.
I knew my biochemistry was finally normal.
IT JUST GETS BETTER AND BETTER
I felt so happy and lighthearted that I was sure it was the final piece of the puzzle. I even started doing amateur standup comedy.
But I kept using and improving the system (which I eventually refined with input from wellness professionals, doctors, our Advisory Board and focus groups).
My focus, efficiency and enthusiasm at work surged.
I never imagined it possible, but somehow, my love for my kids grew even deeper.
Meaning flowed into every hour of every day.
I also started experiencing indescribably profound, persistent, states of fulfillment and inner peace, and a sense of oneness with people and life itself.
I had read about these states of mind; they've been pursued since the beginning of recorded history. But experience them? Me? From where I started?
If I can do it, you can definitely do it.
In 2017, I decided that Corporate America would be just fine without me! And whatever the financial pain it would cost me, I had something incredibly valuable to help people tame their minds, love their lives, and fulfill whatever the Meaning of Life is to them.
HOW MEANINGOFLIFE.COM CAN HELP YOU
1) We post lots of great free content on facebook and our site, including advice, techniques, reminders and lighthearted blogs.
2) I do free 30-minute phone or FaceTime/Skype consultations where I share a more few great techniques, give specific advice if you want to work on anything in your life, and explore if our 2-hour Tame Your Mind, Love Your Life Workshop makes sense for you. It’s a very relaxed conversation.
3) If you decide the Workshop does make sense for you, I teach it via the web or in person, individually or in groups. It clears and widens your lens, empowering you to:
i. Master control of your thoughts and emotions once and for all, including changing your mindset in the moment.
ii. Access positive emotions like happiness and love with incredible ease
iii. Live with profound inner peace and fulfillment and let it support you in the face of life’s toughest challenges
iv. Overcome loneliness, worry and stress
v. Explore and fulfill the Meaning of Life to you. I don’t recommend any specific answer. But whether you define, redefine or affirm the Meaning of Life to you, you’ll never think about the question in quite the same way!
The system taught in the Workshop is a powerful, original, seamless blend of visualization, mindfulness, psychology, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, visual learning and positive reminiscence (memory) therapy, combined with Eastern and Western spiritual teachings.
If that sounds complicated, it’s not. Many products and services are highly sophisticated in design so they can be simple to use. That’s the case here.
As you can see from the testimonials on the homepage, the Workshop is already working wonders for people.
It's typically much less expensive than two hours of therapy, coaching and counseling. You’ll get so much more out of it, and walk away with tools you can use for a lifetime.
But if you don’t think it was two hours well-spent, I’ll give you your money back, with no hard feelings. I paid several therapists and counselors a lot of money and got no value. I wouldn't put you in that position.
4) After the workshop, I’m happy to provide ongoing support at your request. But I believe in simplicity. The heart of what we teach takes two hours by design. If you apply it, which isn’t hard, you’re probably not going to need extra help.
WHY THIS BLOWS AWAY EXPENSIVE THERAPY, COACHING AND COUNSELING
Therapists, coaches and counselors can be beneficial in some situations, but they thrive on dependence. That’s good for them, but it backfired in my own experience. Also, as certified practitioners, they can only tell you what they’re certified to say. Blending powerful, proven approaches in a scientific way isn’t an option for them – and that’s what I do.
That said, if anything else you're doing is helping you feel good, keep doing it in combination with this.
My friend, no matter what has happened to you or what your problems are or how discouraged you might be, you deserve the best in life, and your best days can easily lie ahead.
You’re more capable than you know, you need less help than you think, and the joy of living is well within your grasp.
More good news: There's not a whole lot you need to know or do. You just need to know it and do it. In fact, if you do too much and try too hard, it probably won’t work.
So enjoy the free content. And feel free message me on facebook or contact me though the site to set up a free 30-minute consultation.
Or do something else to tame your mind, love your life and find deep meaning in it.
But whatever you do, keep it simple, and don’t ever settle for less! Good luck, and welcome!