Around six weeks ago I set out to write a short series of posts on the five meaningful states that we refer to in Meaningful Purpose Psychology as the “Five Strivings”, or “The Meaningful Path”. Throughout this series I’ve have been exploring each of these five meaningful states: prosocial, peace, happiness, engagement, and prosperity, and their applicability and impact in everyday work and life.
If you haven’t yet had the chance to read the earlier posts in the series you can catch up on them by starting with the first post of the series, Five Ways We Strive and Thrive and each of the subsequent ones. There is a benefit to allowing time for each one to be considered thoughtfully and in the context of your own life experiences before moving on to the next, so you may want to come back for some review if you choose to go through them together.
Prosocial, Peace, Happiness, Engagement, Prosperity
In this, the final post in this short series, I’d like to briefly touch on each of these meaningful states, but not for the purpose of explaining them (you can review the post on each one if you missed it or would like to revisit). Instead, I’d like to share a bit of my own learning and expanded thinking that came as a result of this exploration.
First, a little more context on the inspiration to write this series of posts specifically. As I mentioned in the previous post in this series, The Path to Prosperity: Nurturing Meaningful Growth, I left my corporate career (with a great company and working with great people) a little over a year ago to use my knowledge of Meaningful Purpose Psychology (MP) to help people on their own journeys to live their most meaningful lives. One way I am carrying out that focus is through my work at the Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose.
At Boston IMP we help people realize their potential to grow and thrive in their meaningful purpose. How we’ve chosen to do that is through a core offering of workshops and a premium service of one-on-one coaching. Leading up to the start of this series I was working on finishing up some of the design elements of our first workshop, The Paths We Choose, and I was thinking about what we call in MP, the Five Strivings.
If you’ve read the series up to now you know that these are the five meaningful states that we seek to experience meaning fulfilment. Even though I had been talking about these states since I first learned and apprenticed in MP, I wanted to make sure that these concepts were plain, accessible, and so importantly, actionable.
I wanted to explore these states in a more practical way, as they relate to everyday work, life, and relationships. I started writing the series, and as I shared my perspective with you, I expanded my own thinking on each as well. I’ll share some brief summary thoughts on each state.
For each of the five meaningful states I wanted to also list what I’m calling a primal root. In the case of the state of being prosocial, the primal root is love. Understanding the state of being prosocial as a meaningful one but knowing that love is the underlying root of that state helps us connect more deeply to it, I think. Each of us is unique in that there has never been an exact replica of us and there will never be an exact other. What being meaningfully prosocial means is to live that meaningful life authentically, and for us to allow and support others in doing the same.
It’s a necessary element of meaningfulness that reminds us to show up, help and allow others to show up, and that the connections and interactions we make or break have an impact on how each of us experiences meaningfulness in our own lives.
The primal root of peace is agreement. There needs to be a resolution of conflict before peace can be achieved. Important to note is that it is not conflict avoidance, it’s resolution. The avoidance of conflict can leave important things unresolved and peace as a meaningful state is not about preventing a fight, it’s about there being an agreement in the way things are and are going. Without this agreement there will be discord, and peace will not be experienced as a meaningful state. Conflict can be healthy, it can move us forward, but healthy conflict resolves, while unhealthy conflict remains. Promoting the conditions and behaviors that result in agreement will bring about meaningful peace.
Happiness as a meaningful state has its primal root in harmony. I have to admit that this was one of the meaningful states that was always harder for me to acknowledge. I have always been someone who pushes myself and when I get close to or achieve a goal, I move the goalpost. While this is helpful to keep me striving, it hasn’t been an approach that has led to a feeling of happiness in my life. When I would consider whether I am happy in my life, I would ask if I was where I wanted to be – and the answer was almost always no, not yet.
What was helpful for me when exploring this state was to separate a sense of harmony and contentment from complacency. Being happy is not the same as being complacent. I can be accepting of things as they are while at the same time wanting to work on and improve them. For a refresher and some examples you can return to the post, The Heart of Happiness: Harmony, Contentment, and Growth, and know that meaningful happiness is not something you achieve only when you’ve reached your ultimate goals.
The primal root of engagement is creation. Who is each of us as an authentic expression of our meaningfulness? What makes us who we are, in a way that only we could show up as us? And is that who we are bringing to the situations, tasks, relationships, work we do, and experiences we have in our lives? In some discussion from our pilot workshop, it came up that being engaged is usually thought of as actively participating – and that’s important no doubt – but meaningful engagement is about bringing the meaningful parts of you to bear in your life.
I wrote earlier about always pushing myself to achieve in my work. For a long time that meant to me figuring out what I had to become to be great at what I did. While developing the skills and competencies to grow in my professional roles is a great thing to engage in, it was important for me to learn that I still needed to bring my-self to that formula, who I am needed to show up through the role I played as well.
We can actively participate in our best impersonation of who we think we are supposed to be or who we think others want us to be, but meaningful engagement comes when we bring our whole selves to bear to and through our work, lives, and relationships.
The primal root of prosperity is growth. What an important concept. Growth is synonymous with living, isn’t it? If we aren’t growing, are we really living? Growth in ways that relate to what is meaningful to us increases our meaningful state of prosperity.
It’s no mistake that the meaningful state of prosperity is the last on the list. In fact, all five are meant to build on those that come before them to provide the foundation for the next state. The solid foundation of prosocial behavior, peace, happiness, and engagement sets the stage for and enables living meaningfully, and the growth in personal meaningfulness results in meaningful prosperity.
So, a good way to think about prosperity as a meaningful state is that it is the flourishing and richness of experiencing meaningfulness in life. The growth and accumulation of meaningful learning, experiences, relationships, the work we do, and all the meaningful places in life. The first post in this series was titled 5 Ways We Strive and Thrive. Thriving is what we do when we choose the meaningful, and meaningful prosperity is the state of doing just that in abundance.
The five meaningful states of the Five Strivings model are meant to show the conditions that need to be in place to experience meaningfulness in life. As a practical model they can be applied in work, relationships, and daily life by letting them be a guide for interactions, decision-making, behavior, chosen focuses, and self-regulation of all kinds. They also can be valuable tools for problem solving, conflict management and resolution, personal and professional development, and goal setting. Of course, that’s by no means an exhaustive list, the possibilities are many more than just those.
For more information on the Five Strivings you can purchase our book Meaningful Purpose: A Primer in Logoteleology, or sign up for one of our workshops by dropping us a note using this link and including your contact information so we can send you more info with offering dates.
If you’ve enjoyed this series on the Five Strivings, take a look at other blog posts from Boston IMP, and remember to check back in as new content is posted regularly.