Go Meaningful or Go Mad!

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If you are among the 75% of workers claiming to dislike their jobs, you may also be the person Fyodor Dostoevsky had in mind when he said:

“Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad.”

We can all use more meaning in our day, whether we work at home or in a career. Luckily, we each come equipped with plasticity (the brain’s ability to change itself) that can upgrade our situation, regardless of where we’ll spend our day.

Plasticity changes us, we decide its direction though

What  reboots our brain at work to both improve what we do and add more meaning to an ordinary day?

  1. When we discover our purpose, we also identify what adds meaning to any day. If we enjoy turning problems into possibilities for instance, invite a neighbor or friend over, listen to anything they’ve been struggling with lately and help that person to cultivate a solution they can appreciate.
  2. If we jot down barriers to why we feel there is a lack of meaning in our life, we see more clearly how to add significance. Let’s say we feel stressed or stuck in a rut. Now that we are clear about the problem we are ready to seek a solution. Research shows, for instance,  that stressed brains rely more on habit and remain longer in ruts. Fortunately, there are effective ways to tap into different talents or intelligences for innovative brainpower that moves us past potholes and into purpose. Not sure where you’re stuck? Then ask a trusted friend, to remind us what topics we tend to speak about or focus on most.  In that place, both our ruts and growth edges will likely reside. Look at ruts from inside our brain, and we’ll likely see how we default to our basal ganglia. Experts call it our mental storehouse. Less sensitive people may remind us it’s where every rigid routine, life failure and annoying habit gathers. That’s also true. Along with every experience we’ve ever encountered, it’s also the place that promotes and prolongs annoying ruts. It doesn’t have to be that way.
  3. If we set a meaningful target for our day, we have more chances to reach wonder. Let’s say we decide to repair an old relationship. Perhaps we approach a family member or friend we already have, but it can include a new acquaintance we’ve ignored. Make time in our day to listen, ask follow-up questions and provide some benefit, friendship offering, or suggestion of support, and we can begin to restore meaning to a relationship. We’d want to express any concerns only in a careful way, being careful to avoid blame. Let go of expectations and we often eliminate strain to an already weakened bond. Instead. show sincerity by telling seeking truth from another person’s perspective and owning up to any bloopers we’ve made in past. Resolve to remain consistent going forward and that person will likely see our good intentions.
  4. If we hope to change one way we think about our day, we might list a few things we’re most grateful for at the moment. Gratitude opens windows into  meaning much the way a warm south breeze refreshes a stuffy room.  This could be as basic as good health, as essential as  financial stability, or as hopeful as a family member or friend who understands and appreciates us.
  5. If we talk to a friend or trusted colleague. we may come away with a new perspective. Start with a question such as, ‘How do you add meaning to your day?” Then mimic that one suggestion and watch for meaningful results to follow.
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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset