“Every human being strives for significance, but people always make mistakes if they do not recognize that their significance lies in their contribution to the lives of others.”
Luis A. Marrero, Written: August 2019: Published August 17, 2020
One of the most eluded and misunderstood feelings is intimacy. For that reason, I have made it a point in my life not to miss the opportunity to surround myself with uplifting and loving people and live a life of contentment and gratitude, regardless of conditions. I have also dedicated my life to help others find meaning in life through and by serving others. I agree with Alfred Adler that one can experience meaning by adding value to others’ lives.
It was easy to learn and apply success principles by studying empirical science and through the example of others who have positive relationships with others. Many excellent answers exist on how to get along with others and experience real and genuine intimacy. As many of my readers and students have heard me say through time, we do not lack answers. Unfortunately, many suffer unnecessarily despite the answers being available. The reason why many fail is that they do not embrace Adler’s axiom above. As a result, self-centeredness trumps being other-oriented.
Doing VS Being
Why is it so difficult to experience real intimacy? Based on my experience, people go after the quick fix based on techniques versus making a fundamental transformation to their meaning of life. The emphasis on techniques competes against the solution of a change of heart and a different worldview of what it means to be human. Again, based on my experience, it is particularly difficult for those with an inflexible practical and logical orientation because they are prone to be myopic and miss broader meaning-context and relevance. Adler explained this phenomenon when he stated that “A human being knows more than understands.” There is a difference between understanding and knowing. To understand, one must be willing to let go of quick fixes (doing) and embrace the wisdom that can only come through a well-thought meaning orientation (being).
I have experienced many times how an obstinate practical-and-logical-orientation gets in the way to understanding. I believe there is no ill intent on the part of the practical-and-logical oriented individual. Usually, it is a blind spot or a defense response – borrowing from Vice-President Al Gore — to “an inconvenient truth.” I have experienced this working with clients in my coaching practice. Some realize that their stubborn resistance is a fear of the truth about themselves and how it shows up in their relationships.
“A lie would make no sense unless the truth were felt dangerous.”
Alfred Adler [i]
But how does one practice understanding to avoid the myopic trap?
The Five Meaningful Life Strivings[i]
Meaningful Purpose Psychology (Logoteleology) starts from the premise that humans strive for love, peace, happiness, interest, and prosperity. I call these the Five Meaningful life Strivings. They are longings humans strive for in their daily life. Fulfilling these five strivings gives life meaning. The way to achieve these positive and intimate states is through
- LOVE: living a life dedicated to loving others
- PEACE: giving people peace and peace of mind
- HAPPINESS: doing things that will make people smile
- INTEREST or ENGAGEMENT: doing exciting activities with exciting people in exciting places
- PROSPERITY: leveraging the previous points to help others prosper in life
Based on my studies, love is a precondition to peace. Peace, engagement, and the expectation of prosperity create optimal conditions for genuine happiness and gratitude. Meaningful prosperity is the outcome of faithfully following the previous four.
These longings we strive for, again, is a values-based, heart-felt decision, and commitment. It is a pledge to live an other-oriented life. Of course, techniques and methods will help, but they should not lead or override the spirit of the intent of a meaningful life. The logical-practical-oriented individual is and will be greatly disappointed by prioritizing techniques over a meaning-based approach to life. As a shell without its seed does not have life in it, so is living life through techniques devoid of meaning. And living a meaningful life is a gradual and advancing process that requires an unfailing commitment, having patience, walking your talk, being resilient, and celebrating progress – however small it is. It works best when you surround yourself with people who are also committed to faithfully practice The Five Meaningful Life Strivings and use the process to cheer one another forward.
“As a shell without its seed does not have life in it, so is living life through techniques devoid of meaning.”
Luis A. Marrero
“But,” you may ask, “how does this meaning-based approach look like?” I will let you in a secret that explains why I experience a life of contentment: I follow the Meaningful Purpose Psychology’s meaningful path to intimacy.
Meaningful Path to Intimacy
Here is a brief explanation of the developmental and transitional stages to deepen relationships with others. By understanding the definitions and steps of relationships, you can build a plan to reach the ultimate price: genuine intimacy!
1. Strangers: A stranger is a person one does not know or is unfamiliar to us. When you say, “I do not know him,” you are referring to a stranger.
2. Acquaintance: Once you are exposed to someone through introductions, it can be said that you have a faint notion of who this person is; but is not yet even familiar to you and, definitely, is not a close friend. When you say, “I have seen or heard of him and may have been introduced.” Or “I have spoken to him a few times, but no more.”, you are describing an acquaintance.
3. Familiar are individuals with whom you have had a long and close association, as you would with peers at work or a person whom you know well but are not necessarily friends. Generally, we could categorize bosses, distant family members, peers, and neighbors as people we share familiarity with.
4. Friends are people in your inner circle. As a rule, there are mutual trust and affection, and a willingness to help in time of need. But this type of friendship is generally conditional and hence fragile. If one or both parties have a discrepancy, they could part ways. They might or not be willing to repair the relationship.
5. Intimates (Best friends) are people in the center of your inner circles, such as your spouse, children, and parents. You can open your hearts to them knowing it is safe, and that they will help and support you no matter what. They will protect, defend, and forgive you. They will love you in good and bad times, when you do well and when you do not, and even when you fail them because their love is unconditional.
6. Transcendental and Altruistic: We generally can recognize compassionate people because they have dedicated their lives to doing good to all. Recent Nobel Peace Prize laurels such as Ably Ahmed, Nadia Murad, Denis Mukwege, and Malala Yousafzai, are examples of the transcendental and altruistic faithful.
Those who are committed to living a life full of meaning will set plans to move from one stage to the next with those close to them. You will be able to know when you have reached a stage based on the definitions provided. Of course, you will need to have buy-in from those who accompany you on your journey. Individuals and organizations that can reach the levels of intimacy and transcendence are examples of a life full of meaning.
Details on how to transition from one stage to the next are the subject of a future book. However, here are some tips on how to soar from one stage to the next.
How to Soar
- Commit to applying the Five Meaningful Life Strivings as a way of life. This commitment is about edifying others.
- Understand first, then learn and apply methods with a heart-felt attitude. You might want to partner with a qualified Logoteleologist (Certified or Licensed Meaningful Purpose Psychologist or coach) to help you in your journey.
- Invite others in your inner circle to join you for mutual support and benefit. Build meaning-based communities.
- Regardless if you community is as small as two people or more, set developmental goals. For instance, you might want to discover and practice what is genuine and uplifting love, and how you can make it a way of life at home, work, religious communities, and as public policy.[ii]
- Practice meaningfulness, monitor your progress, learn from your mistakes, and celebrate successes.
If you would like to learn more about how to live a life full of meaning, contact the author at Luis@Bostonimp.com.
[i] Marrero, Luis A., The Path to a Meaningful Purpose: Psychological Foundations of Logoteleology. Bloomington, IN: IUniverse, 2013
[ii] Marrero, Luis A. Building a Meaningful Meaning Economy, https://authorluismarrero.blog/2017/11/28/building-a-meaningful-meaning-economy/ Retrieved on August 10, 2019
- Adler, Alfred. What Life Should Mean to You. CT: Martino, 2010
- Ansbacher, Heinz L., and Rowena R. Ansbacher, Eds. The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. New York: Harper and Rowe, 1956
[i] © 2020. Luis A. Marrero, Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose. Modified version of Seven Social Stages: A Path to Intimacy model.