What makes a life extraordinary? Is it money, stuff, relationships, having a great body?
To be honest with you, it’s a little more complicated and yet easier than that.
The good news is that to experience an extraordinary life, we create a life that gives us meaning. It is from the meaning we give our experiences that we then create emotion, and it is in that emotion that we experience life.
Meaning=Emotion and Emotion=Life
Our experiences are the sum total of the meaning we make and the emotions we feel.
The great news is that you can change the way you experience your life by shifting either or both the meaning, or the emotion.
We are meaning making machines, and that meaning creates the emotions we experience.
So let’s take an event. Recently I decided to come off all my pain medications. I have been feeling a lot better, less migraines, less body pain and I thought that I would give it a go. The great news is that due to having a great Doctor, I was on a non addictive, non opioid pain medication and I did not experience any “withdrawal” symptoms.
So 1 month on and I am back to the Doctors for a followup. Nope not working. It hurts all over, everywhere…it’s like the pain is radiating out from my bones and joints. I struggle to fall asleep at night and even when I do, I wake up due to pain. Then I struggle to get up in the mornings and “parent” and work.
So this is my “current experience”. There are many different meanings I can take from this. We are all meaning making machines. We have a need to be able to understand, categorize, process and move through life in a way that satisfies our human nature.
I could make “good or bad”, “helpful or unhelpful” or “resourceful or unresourceful” meaning from this experience.
In honesty, I was was bummed out. I was so hopeful that I was in some sort of remission, but it was not what was happening. I very much want this to not be an issue in my world without the assistance of daily medication. I could have descended into hating my body, being a victim to my body and to my pain. Blaming something that has done this to me, blaming myself for whatever I did to deserve this or bring it about. That COULD have been the meaning I took from the experience. The emotions that would follow are guilt, shame, self hatred, self pity, victimhood, unmotivated, giving up, resentment, anger, frustration, the feeling of grief and loss.
But as I am a more choice driven individual, I have consciously chosen to not “sit” in these feelings. I cannot tell you I didn’t take the self pity train all the way to “It’s not fair” station. But I quickly returned to my natural state of, “So what am I going to do about it now?”
Empowered thinking isn’t denying the reality of where I find myself. I am in pain, I have an autoimmune disorder, I will be replying on pain management medication and a very restrictive eating plan for the foreseeable future.
The meaning I am making from it is more empowered, choice focused, forward moving and constructive. Due to this “meaning” I am giving it, the emotions I feel are different as well. There is acceptance, empowerment, enlightenment, making the best of it, finding joy in the smaller achievements, happiness in smaller steps.
I have structured my life so that I can gain achievement, feel empowered, accomplish my goals, feel love and loving towards others. Even inside my pain, I am happy.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that I don’t have days where I am fed up, sore and tired. I do. On those days I pace and reset my expectations so that I can still achieve, still feel successful, still feel loving and feel loved.
It is in the emotions we experience that we experience our life. Pain or no pain…that does not change.