Last week we looked at the reason for this pursuit. To summarize, the meaning of life provides us with the answer to the question of why—why work, why love, why life—and it’s this answer that gives our life meaningful purpose. This time we will look at the attitude of meaning.
Let’s look at three examples.
In People magazine, Avril Lavigne, pop singer, tells the story about contracting Lyme disease and living bedridden for 5 months. Her commentary on that time is telling: “Sometimes it takes instances like this to put things in perspective. So in a way, I am grateful for all of this….I’ve never had this much time off in my life. And I’ve never been more clear about what I want in life – health, family, love, happiness.”
Avril was forced to take time off and contemplate her life, to find out what was meaningful and what was not. Like many who experience that, she comes away changed, and thankful.
In Tony Robbins’ book MONEY, he writes about an interview he had with Sir John Templeton, one of the most famous financial professionals in American history. Tony writes, “When others were fearful, he went out and invested. I asked him, ‘What’s the secret to wealth?’ And he said, ‘Tony, you know it, and you know it well. You teach it to everyone. It’s gratitude.’ When you’re grateful, there is no fear; when you’re grateful, there is no anger. Sir John was one of the happiest and most fulfilled human beings I have ever known.”
This is a great example of the attitude of meaning. Before we can find the action of meaning, we have to develop gratitude. Gratitude is as vital to happiness and fulfillment as the experience itself. But gratitude can be a hard thing to define.
From a Christian perspective, gratitude is a verb, not an emotion. The Greek New Testament is very clear that Jesus calls us to “give thanks,” not to “feel thankful.”
Joni Eareckson Tada, a famous Christian author and speaker, was paralyzed from the neck down as a teenager in a swimming accident. She learned gratitude as a verb and reflects on the difficulty of that transformative experience in her book A Place of Healing. She writes, “It happened to me many years ago after the accident that broke my neck. In that hospital in Baltimore I gritted my teeth and
willfully gave thanks for everything—from the awful food to the grueling hours of physical therapy. Months later, a miracle occurred. I began to feel thankful.“
Avril Lavigne was grateful for the time her illness forced her to take. Templeton said gratitude is the secret to wealth. Joni Tada said gratitude is a dry-as-dust grappling with yourself, a gritting-your-teeth and determining you are thankful—your heart will eventually catch up.
Without gratitude, business is susceptible to being ruined by our own weakness, the deep fear and laziness and shame that haunt us. Without gratitude, we can have no purpose, and without purpose, we can have no true fulfillment.
“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ~G. K. Chesterton
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