What happens as we gain clarity to the big questions of life, meaning, and happiness? Do we change as people? As we consider these powerful questions with different levels of attention throughout our lives, we inevitably develop our life skills.
Is there even a way to evaluate/rank/determine these various levels of consideration and their related skill sets?
In truth, there is probably no way to accurately measure one’s ‘level of consideration’ of meaning in life. The factors involved are far too subjective. It isn’t an exact science.
But we can use our dedication to cultivating certain life skills, the purposes behind our seeking, and our level of awareness as means of assessing where we are within this spectrum of consideration. Life skills like wisdom, knowledge, and awareness result from practice. Whether or not these skills are developing and growing, or stagnate, helps us characterize our ‘level,’ so to speak.What we offer here is a model that CAN offer insight on one’s “level of consideration” of the questions of life…
Practicing life skills and deepening our awareness aids us as we aim to live life to the fullest joy and purpose. The “Whys” (to the big question of life) are important. Awareness of where we sit with these “Whys” aids our reception of those very skills themselves.
So, what we offer here is something that CAN offer insight on one’s “level of consideration” of the questions of life…
***Read below the image for the explanation.
The above (clickable) image presents a metaphor that is simple to understand, yet contains a vast, complex area of life. It’s like this:
As our consideration grows in depth and complexity, we experience more detail in the questions and practices of life.
Starting at level 1, we enjoy a blissful simplicity, represented here by a bench and a few flowers. As we move to level 2, we notice that there are, in fact, individual blades of grass and fauna of different varieties. Likewise, our journey through life, and possibly to higher levels of consideration like 3, 4, and 5, yields more and more detail, more vibrance to the colors, and a broader perspective.
Life is Learning
With that said, it’s important to note some of the potential pitfalls to quantifying one’s awareness of meaning and life.
The purpose of these ‘Levels’ is NOT:
- For you to compare others or yourself.
- To prescribe a point of ‘enlightenment’.
- To illustrate a ‘right‘ way of being.
- To create a motivation based on shame, competition, fear, or wanting to be cool.
The intention of these ‘levels’ is to help inform us of what we’re working toward as we grow. This is assuming that, as is most likely the case, you want to live a life of the utmost joy, awareness, and flourishing. Your conceptions, and “mileage” may vary, and that’s okay; what’s important is enjoying the landscape you occupy now, while simultaneously looking toward more distant lands and the horizon, wondering what sweetness and adventures await.
The individual skills that make up our collective proficiency, our ‘level of consideration’ of life’s big questions, each have their own learning pathways. As the graphic shows, there is a helpful 4-step evolution one can consider when learning a new skill.
It’s also an important note that while we may generally sit at a certain level of consideration, we fluctuate with our moods, activities, and relationships, whether by moments in a day or by weeks, months, and years.
The following examples for each level detail how someone at that level of consideration would approach questions of meaning in their life.
Your view can be pleasant, and lacks detail.
*You can click each image for a better view.
You don’t regularly consider meaning and its constructs.
Questions like “Oh, that’s interesting . . . What’s for lunch? What do you want to watch? What do you want to do next?” are much more frequent and dictate your being.
Answers to life’s big questions at this level often read like a bumper sticker, or a quote:
“Live life to the fullest!”
“Don’t take life so seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive!”
“I just want to be happy.”
“Follow your heart!”
Your explanation to questions like “Who am I, and what is life all about?” fits into 1-3 sentences, without detailed further definition of terms, and plans of action related to each.
• “Family, friends, a job I love, hobbies I enjoy . . . that’s a good life to me.”
• “Look, no one really knows, just do your best, be kind, love one another, and have fun.”
• “The ___(sacred text here)___ let’s me know what’s important. Be loving. Do good work. Follow your heart.”
You’ve experienced a noticeable growth in detail.
Your ‘life landscape’ contains things you didn’t even notice before.
Failure, although not absolutely necessary, has likely been a traveling companion, and one that has taught you much.
- Answering the question “Who am I?” would readily fill a couple, dense pages, and take less than an hour to complete.
- As one of nearly 8 billion people on Earth, you’ve dabbled in numerous forms of personal expression. You’ve picked a half-dozen or so that both define and fulfill you. You continue to expose yourself to the wilds and possibilities of human expression both in a sense of awe and joy, and also to remain open to sustained and temporary ways of expressing your unique humanity/self.
- You have looked to the communities you travel in, and perhaps even communities you do not, to offer yourself for a good or cause that inspires you to give of yourself — time, talent, and/or treasury/money. This has been and will be a feature of your discovered expression of self, and a manifestation of how you view love.
- Love is not only a verb to you, it is also a well conjugated one. It’s forms and nature are something you could wisely speak about for half an hour, without repeating yourself. You can place yourself within that context, past, present, and future.
You’ve deeply contemplated not only the 4 Cornerstones, but also other elements of meaning/happiness/joy.
- You’ve either surmised and/or studied the nuances that encompass happiness/joy.
- You can speak about them, see your history with them, know your present, and point to your developing pathway.
- While you may not have seen the Bliss Map before, you know the 4 quadrants, can recall how your past occupations have fared within them, deeply considered your current lived experience, and have clear visions of your pathway/dance going forward.
- You understand that people are enmeshed into meaning and purpose, yet also understand that being around people is a necessary yet insufficient condition for meaning and joy.
- You have teased apart how your history (e.g, family, city, country, time period, friends, religion) has formed you through its currents and channels, and now stand upon a hill overlooking the waterways, charting one’s course intentionally.
- Your days, weeks, months, and years have an intentional, planned (yet flexible) awareness to them.
- The enablers are familiar in their nature, and in your nature
- Your perspective/belief in the “stars”/traditions realm has both a well considered and settled nature; your beliefs and values have many miles and vistas (foreign and familiar) behind them, and the nuance of a scholar.
- Fear is a considered and welcome companion.
There is great depth and contemplation in your overview of life and its meaning.