In the second week’s lesson in my Noimetic Psychology course through En*Theos Academy, Dr. Eric Maisel explained that the very act of taking an action with the intention that it will be a meaningful experience can lessen the likelihood that a meaningful experience will result. For example, if we plan a vacation with our families with the hope that every day is going to build lasting memories and strengthen familial bonds, the pressure of this expectation necessarily interferes with the natural outcome and potential for meaning to be made. Instead, Dr. Maisel suggests, we should choose to engage in activities we value simply because we value them, without attachment to the outcome. If we say to ourselves, “I choose to engage in X behavior because I value Y.” and then remain open to whatever results, we do not interfere with the possibility for meaning to ensue. Naturally, choosing activities based on things we value increases the chance for meaningful psychological experiences, but reduces the likelihood that we will get in our own way.
This seems simultaneously an impossibly difficult and critically important life lesson.
Needless to say, I am thoroughly impressed with my first experience with En*Theos Academy, and have found my experience to be meaningful already. And, heck, I was not attached to any sort of outcome going into it––looks like it’s already working! :)
tags: psychology reflection