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Je Suis Quoi?


There you go again.

Ronald Reagan

The news from Paris is shocking, and the killing of unarmed civilians inexcusable. Much is being said about who is right and what is right and wrong about the Je Suis Charlie tragedy. Passions are high, indignation abounds. The TV and radio waves are filled with diverse points of view, depending on individual and sometimes contrasting perspectives. Unfortunately, despite the rhetoric, this scenario keeps repeating itself and we do not seem to learn from the past. I am reminded of Ronald Reagan’s quote, “There you go again.” I am sure any of us can think of a stubborn failing that is difficult to shake or overcome; and this seems to be one of them.

The sad event in Paris — and too many other places on Earth — however, is a collective human failure to coexist in peace. Fortunately, there have been answers and solutions available all along; and I am pleased to offer some simple steps that, if followed, will put an end to most of our pressing problems. Indeed, Meaningful Purpose Psychology came to being to help individuals, groups, firms, and governments to discern and do what is meaningful and reject what is meaningless.

Here are some simple solutions that would prevent miserable situations as we witness in Paris.

  1. Embrace and follow the Five Meaningful Life Strivings as common standards for human interaction. The Five Meaningful Life Strivings explain the psychological existential states all humans yearn for. Humans strive and need:

  2. To love and be loved by others.

  3. To have peace of mind, and to live in peace with others.

  4. To experience a state of happiness.

  5. To be stimulated and challenged with interesting experiences or life events.

  6. To grow and prosper.

These five yearnings define what is meaningful in life. And if we are to live meaningfully and for positive consequence, our interpersonal and social decisions must pass the meaningful test.

  1. Learn and practice the competencies of allowing, cooperating, and transcending (Hence the acronym ACT).

To allow is a meaningful action that actively supports others’ inherent right to achieve their individuality and potential. Its opposite is a meaningless action where people are prevented by others from being themselves; from performing at their upmost best, and from self-actualizing. Disallowing includes hindering others; and disengaging and underperforming to obstruct progress.[1] We disallow when we expect others to be like us, and to deny their core. We disallow when we get upset because others have a different style and approach for doing things; generally by attributing some innate evil intent. When we do not allow others, we are not respecting their individuality and right to be their unique self.

Cooperation is meaningful because it follows the doctrine of mutualism, interdependence, and shared aid. Different to a competitive or hostile inclination, cooperation is the common space where people meet to do what is good, healthy, honorable, and productive for all the stakeholders.

Transcendentalism is the ultimate expression of being humane. When we transcend we are giving without expecting to be repaid in kind. To transcend is a sign of a strong character; and has nothing to do with being weak or submissive. I firmly believe (based on empirical findings) that if there were a collective will to practice ACT (allow, cooperate, and transcend) in meaningful ways, we would not have the problems we face today, such as the tragedy in Paris and elsewhere.


  1. When making a decision and planning to take an action that affects another person, ask yourself:

  2. Will this person feel, think and conclude that I love, care and respect her or him? Do I allow him or her to be, without imposing my values and standards? Am I cooperating, and even transcending my wants, needs and rights in meaningful service?

  3. Will this action lead to peaceful co-existence? Will the receiving parties know in their heart that I sincerely want them to feel included, safe, and to have peace of mind; and to trust that I will not harm, offend or demean them in any way?

  4. Will this decision help us appreciate and value one another, and to enjoy each other’s’ company; to smile and laugh together?

  5. Will this choice open doors so that we may meet in that common space called cooperation; where great and interesting things can happen, culture blossoms, and where we can co-create solutions to difficult yet fascinating challenges?

  6. Will this option encourage the promise of the common good, prosperity, and well-being for all?

  7. Ask yourself the question; Am I less free if I am responsible, respectful and sensitive to others?

The Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose embraces and defends the right of all to enjoy basic freedoms, as for instance championed in the United States’ Bill of Rights. However, it also embraces and defends the universal rights of all people to be treated with dignity and respect. Viktor Frankl said it best:

I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

The point being that there can be no personal or collective freedom without being responsible to others. Freedom and responsibility are mutually dependent. The one cannot exist without the other. We offer that to act responsibly requires a commitment to the Five Meaningful Life Strivings through the skillful practice of allowing, cooperating, and transcending (I call these The Three Pillars of Success).

To conclude, some alternatives have been offered to fill the blank: Je suis _____. Why not, “Je suis l’amour?” Après tout, est-il pas plus pratique? (“I am love.” After all, isn’t it more practical?).

At The Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose we offer practical learning experiences that equip people to solve real life problems for individuals, groups and organizations. Our Meaningful Purpose Laboratories have a proven track record in helping people follow the meaningful path. Visit us at or contact us through this blog.

[1] Marrero, Luis A. The Path to a Meaningful Purpose: Psychological Foundations of Logoteleology. Bloomington. IUnIverse. 2013. Page 88 Copyright 2015. Luis A. Marrero. Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose

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