I am a novice cello player. And I love it.
My first love is classical music. I am a self-identified classical music snob. My first long term dream was to play clarinet in a symphony orchestra. I poured my heart and soul into that dream for more than a decade. But some dreams simply do not materialize and can break your heart.
Four decades later, when I started to redefine my future, I tried to answer the question – “if you could do whatever you want, what would you do?” Blank stare. Nada. I was at a complete loss. Somewhere on the ‘web’ I read a suggestion – revisit activities you enjoyed as a kid/teen/young adult. For me that was music. Hence my newly kindled love affair with cello!
A dream was born. A dream just for me. A dream with no endpoint. A dream that presents a challenge and keeps my brain alive. What could be better?
When was the last time you did something meaningful just for you? Not a pedicure and manicure, soak in the tub or relaxation massage. Pampering is lovely – by all means self-indulge! Pampering can certainly reduce stress, at least temporarily. But does it enrich your life beyond the immediate?
Perhaps a definition of meaningful might be helpful here. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary meaningful is defined as “full of meaning or significance.” Not overly helpful. Meaning is defined as “the thing that one intends to convey especially by language.” Hmmm….
Meaningful versus happy. It’s a debate that has its roots in the musings of the ancient philosophers (Aristotle, Socrates and associates.) It’s a debate that is particularly polarized these days. We live in a world that is obsessed with the pursuit of happiness. It is entrenched in the US constitution (for the record I am Canadian – we are entrenched in being ‘nice.’)
In her book The Power of Meaning, Emily Esfahani Smith argues – quite effectively in my opinion – that the pursuit of happiness is destined to fail. Only by finding meaning can we live the good life. Aristotle uses the Greek word ‘eudaimonia’ (to flourish) to describe meaning. Leading an eudaimonic life “requires cultivating the best qualities within you both morally and intellectually and living up to your potential…. rather than squander[ing] your talents.”
If your life has meaning, would you not also feel deeply happy? Not a fleeting, in the moment sort of happiness that evaporates with a flippant comment from a co-worker or miserable weather. But a deep unshakeable contentment. Given that meaning will be different for everyone, it is difficult to measure. Broadly speaking, individuals find meaning when they view their lives as significant and worthwhile, believe their lives make sense and feel their lives are driven by a sense of purpose. Clearly, a meaningful life, is not one size fits all.
I found meaning in music. It fuels my heart and soul. Music nourishes my eudaimonic life.
What nourishes your eudaimonic life?
Buff it up, my friends
Are you ready to Buff Up Your Brain? Ready to, lose weight, increase your mental clarity and polish up your thoughts? Let’s chat.