One of the key strategies in The Sacred Way is the process of creating meaning in our lives. Jordan Peterson shared a beautiful monologue on The Joe Rogan Podcast.
We swoop into this conversation while they are talking about working out in a gym. On weight day – there is an optimal load and you exceed that load to your detriment = pull a muscle. If you lift too light, you will not accomplish what you set out to do – so you have to find that edge between the two. And that is where you find meaning lies.
Meaning tells you, you are on the edge. (I found this to be a really intriguing approach to meaning) Let’s talk about this edge… The edge is where you are out of undue danger, competent. But you are pushing yourself enough that you are continually developing. That is the INSTINCT of meaning. So if you view meaning as a THING, an object – this object has an instinct. I feel like knowing this is an intelligent thing.
When you move to the edge of your ability – Your positivity is saying – “this is worth doing”. Your negativity is chiming in – “yeah but be awake and be careful”. The edge – lies right between order and chaos. Too much order means you're just practicing what you already know and too much chaos means you better look out because you're gonna hurt yourself. You are wired as a human being for that edge!
So if you can point to times in your life right now, currently, not someday or a decade ago, now, where you went right up to the edge, you taste chaos in the sweat of your brow. You have a chance at creating meaning.
Here is a great recommendation from Jordan. Find out where your tolerance is. How much can you work? How discipline are you? “Flat out – where is your limit? – find out – push yourself past – and then back off.” This is an act of self-awareness. Find the line you should be living on, push yourself to that line – live with this aim.
We get really deep here – that edge, tells you THIS IS THE PLACE, you are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing and THAT my friend, THAT is what makes your life meaningful. When all the juices in your body is screaming YES, this feels right, everything is so wrong, yet so right in this very moment that the universe has gifted to me. The discomfort is doable but not destructive. This is so real, this is the antidote to suffering. And for the first time, you feel like you are armed with something to make sense of the world.
Meaning comes when you are “killing off something that was erroneous and replacing it with something you feel is a better truth”. (I love that, read that sentence again.) That sentence is the definition of growth too.
They wrap up this truth bomb podcast with a challenge to replace this idea of intelligence as the highest virtue to aim for – replace it with the idea of ATTENTION as an even higher aim. “You can undermine your sense of meaning and you can question it but the best thing to do is to actually pay attention to when it manifests itself. It is not something you create, it is something you discover. (That was a truth bomb, did a little explosion go off in your head?)
So here is some practical advice from a brilliant soul (JP). Pay attention like you are ignorant about yourself. Take 2 weeks – analyze yourself like you don't know who you are - notice when you are doing something that you are really engaging in. If only for 10 minutes – you think to yourself, I was really engaged in something there! Now, WHY? What is it that you did? Because RIGHT engaged you. You were in the right place at the right time doing the right thing for a few minutes. What was it?
Jordan explains, “There is a line in the New Testament - Christ says the kingdom of God is spread across the earth, but men do not see it. That's what it refers to - you wander into paradise now and then – when you are deeply engaged in something, you don't notice it. You don't think, oh look I'm in the right place and everything's working out right now – and this means - I got it right somehow and then I need to practice being there more and more and more.” What could be a more appropriate thing to practice?
“You must come to a negotiation with that intrinsic sense of meaning – you must realize it as a fact rather than just as an opinion or something”.
This requires communicating with YOURSELF and it requires IGNORANCE – a real honest inquiry of yourself, because in a sense you are really asking of yourself – who am I in this respect, I simply do not know, and I want to. There is someone is inside of you that knows the answers to this – that you can communicate with. An old principle of the magical process of transformation still rings true. “You find what you need where you least want to look”.