Finding freedom and meaning

Some people want commiseration with their tales of woe. They appear to throw pity parties where they'll succeed at getting sympathy. Some people want to win at other's expense, beat people in competitions and gain command of the playing field. They appear to setup contests, comparisons and trophy cases where they'll succeed at getting admiration, envy and fame. Others, like myself, want freedom and meaning in our lives. We appear to take what happens as stories loaded with symbolic significance, suspenseful plots and conflicts which bring out different sides of each character.

No matter what we want, everyone succeeds. We set-up our lives in ways that accomplish our intentions. We believe in receiving the experiences we favor. We ask for the kind of trouble that gets us what we want. We name the game we're playing and routinely win.

Those seeking sympathy or superiority aren't interested in freedom and meaning. The search for meaning involves too much responsibility for one's own reactions to what happens. It disentangles freedom seekers from captivity by pity parties or power trippers. Freedom and meaning fail to get sympathy or superior recognition. Finding freedom and meaning only seems like a success to those who really want those experiences. They're not for everyone.

Today I'm launching a new series of posts on this blog, inspired by an email I received recently from a kindred spirit:
"I have many friends in creative, marketing, and still-in-search-of-meaning jobs who are not satisfied and seek freedom in so many ways... even from themselves. (Of course I'm one of them.)"
In my experience, finding meaning in our lives provides profound experiences of freedom from taking things literally, over-reacting to setbacks, or getting stuck resisting incidents that persist. Likewise, seeking freedom amidst misery, frustration or boredom yields new meaning, depth and significance to current situations. The combination of freedom and meaning takes shape slowly as personal changes in identity, intentions, projects and relationships. Knowing what to expect and which processes to trust -- is some of what I am about to explore here.

People with meaningful lives are inner directed. We've found within our minds a different identity from the contrived ones the world gave us. We've re-conceptualized who we are in larger contexts and why we're here right now. We take things in a different light than our fears or social obligations dictate. We've found what is intrinsically rewarding and pursue those particular avenues with tremendous self-motivation. Our setbacks then call for more meaning and awareness of previous hidden freedoms. Our accomplishments are neither superior or inferior - they are rewarding in their own right.

Succeeding at finding freedom and meaning calls for rethinking lots of assumptions used by successful seekers of sympathy or superiority. It calls for playing with the rules that others play by. The game of finding freedom and meaning goes for goals on the inside of you.


  1. Kia ora Tom!

    You are right.

    "I have abandoned my search for the truth, and am now looking for a good fantasy." - Ashleigh Brilliant

    Ka kite anō
    from Middle-earth

  2. Thanks Ken. I'm glad to know we are on each other's radar.
    Best wishes to Frodo, Gandalf, Elrond and all other denizens in my fantasy of Middle earth :-)

  3. I'll be following these posts with baited breath. (As will some kindred colleagues...)


  4. Thanks Tom for pouncing on this matter of meaning and freedom in our lives. It's questions on freedom and meaning that I am facing more than ever. I am re-inventing my place in the world and creating new intentions to add meaning to my everyday relations and work. I will be reading and contributing as you go forward.

  5. @ Joe: I'm as excited as you are Joe. I've already come up with sketches for 21 posts in this series! I'm so glad that what is so meaningful for me to share is as significant for you to benefit from.

    @ Brent: I look forward to your adding comments in this series, Brent -- and relaying some of the challenges you're facing. As you see me bringing my meaning to these issues, perhaps you'll find ways to follow my example in your situations too.