Is it possible for a slave to find meaning in life? The man who wrote Man’s Search For Meaning was more than a slave in the Nazi concentration camps decades back. Reading his book, he tells us that one has a say even in the most degrading circumstances in life. One can choose meaning:
So it turns out that a life of meaning is a choice. For the most part, it is. That’s why in the past several articles, we have talked about some of the different choices that we can make that will cause us to inject meaning into our lives. We are fully in control of these choices.
Meaning in life is not something that is automatic. It is interesting because meaning is a desire as well as a makeup of the human soul. We are not complete without meaning. However, we do not have meaning just because we have been born. Whatever is inside of us that has been placed there in terms of gifts, talents, passion, and whatever capacity is supposed to be worked out to create meaning in life.
To inject meaning into life, we must be intentional about the following but also leave the chance to the world to recognize us:
I already stated that a slave might inject meaning into their lives by simply deciding about it. However, you and I are in totally different strata as compared to a slave. A slave might not do a rebirth, might not take personal responsibility, and might not even have time to renew themselves to meaning and purpose.
At the end of the day, the slave doesn’t even have a reward for their labour. What I am saying is that it is slavery to work and not be rewarded. In fact, nothing typifies a lack of meaning in life like a life full of work and no rewards.
“It is slavery to work and not be rewarded. In fact, nothing typifies a lack of meaning in life like a life full of work and no rewards.”—Lawrence Namale
Most of the people who have found no meaning in life are those that have not been rewarded for their work. It is like the scales. On one hand, there is your work and your value addition in life, but on the other hand, there is the rewards commensurate to that work. This is one of the most important scales in life, and it must always balance.
Unfortunately, and obviously, this scale never really balances for very many people on earth. If what you are rewarded doesn’t balance with what you have done, if you have been rewarded more than what you are worth, you will not feel meaningful in life. You will know it and you will in fact seek to do more so that what you are doing is at par with what you are being rewarded.
If on the other hand what you are doing is more than what you are rewarded, especially tangible and physical rewards, you will still feel like there is no meaning in your life. Life has been structured in such a way that a man must be rewarded for his labour, and that is one of the most powerful ways that we find meaning.
Invariably, we don’t get rewarded partly because we have not been smart enough either to position ourselves to be rewarded or even to ask for those rewards. A reward is an appreciation of the value that you are offering. This reward helps you to cater for your living expenses. At some point in time, the reward might grow so much so that it caters for your comfort.
A good reward for your work gives you so much that you can give back to society. What a way to find meaning in multiple ways in life. First, you find meaning through the work that you are doing. Then, you find meaning through the rewards and recognition that you are receiving. Third, the reward enables you to extend a hand and give back to society. It is pure bliss. This is what a life of meaning is all about.
You will notice though that getting a reward is not one hundred per cent our prerogative. Chances are that we are doing our work of meaning to the wrong people. Chances are that we have not done it long enough for it to mature and warrant a reward. Chances are that it is sloppy and so there is no oomph from people to reward us.
It might also be that there are very many people who are doing the generic thing that we are also doing and so there is the so-called ‘competition’ for rewards. All these scenarios are what a person of meaning needs to grapple with and keep tweaking their offer until such a time that rewards for their work become automatic.
Yes, getting rewards is not necessarily all up to you but on the other hand, getting a reward just because you worked is not automatic anymore. We must position ourselves and we must ask for that reward. At other times, the universe finally recognizes what we are doing and gives as a major award. However, this is once in a blue moon.
To have meaning in life, we must be sure that we are getting rewards on a consistent basis from the work of purpose that we are doing. We are all responsible for injecting meaning into our lives. Nobody else will do that for us. Let’s get it done.