A Whole New Mind – Meaning

posted December 15th, 2009 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I promised to share some of the collection of tools, exercises and further reading materials which Dan Pink provided in his book A Whole New Mind to send us on our way to developing each of the six essential aptitudes — what he calls the six senses on which professional and personal satisfaction increasingly will depend. One of the six senses is Meaning and Pink outlined a number of tools, exercises and reading materials which one might pursue to develop this sense. The following selection resonated with me.


Say Thanks

The Gratitude Visit. Think of a person in your life who has been kind or generous to you but whom you’ve never properly thanked. Write a detailed “gratitude letter” to that person, explaining in concrete terms why you are grateful. Then visit the person and read the letter aloud.


Take a Sabbath


Select one day a week and remove yourself from the maw. Stop working. Don’t answer your email. Ignore your voice mail. Turn off your mobile phone. If this weekly ritual isn’t right for you, consider this alternative. Choose one common act during your day to serve as a pause. Whenever you, say, grasp a doorknob or reach for the telephone, simply stop, take three mindful breaths and then go through the door or answer the phone.


Read These Books


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel. Pink says: “Simply one of the most important books you’ll ever read.”


Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman. Pink says: “It astonishes me that more people haven’t read this book and absorbed its lessons. It’s an ideal introduction to positive psychology and contains all sorts of exercises to help you put the findings into action in your own life.”


Flow by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi. Pink says: “Flow, when you’re so absorbed and enthralled in an activity that you lose your sense of time and place, is an important component of the aptitude of Meaning. This book is your guide.”


What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson. Pink says: “That’s a question all of us have asked ourselves — and it’s one that Bronson got hundreds of people around the United States to ask themselves. He returned with a trove of moving, inspiring, and insightful stories.”


Mindfulness by Ellen Langer. Pink says: “Too many of us stumble through life mindlessly, says Harvard professor Langer. We’re stuck in routines and unaware of our surroundings. Breaking out of that mindset, she says, can be the pathway to creativity and meaning.”


The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. Pink says: “The Dalai Lama visits with physician Cutler — and in a series of interviews explains his philosophy of life and expands on his idea that the very purpose of life is to seek happiness.”


Visit a Labyrinth


In Pink’s words: “I’ve tried meditating — and did a pretty bad job of it. I’ve considered yoga, but (physically at least) I’m not flexible. However, I’ve found labyrinths to be surprisingly addicting — so much so that I’d consider installing one in some future backyard. The advantage to me — short attention span, inability to sit still — is that labyrinths require movement. And moving meditation can be calming and centering.”


Picture Yourself at Ninety


Set aside a half hour to picture yourself at age ninety and to put yourself in the mind of the ninety-year old you. What does your life look like when you view it from that vantage point? What have you accomplished? What have you contributed? What are your regrets? Again in Pink’s words: “This isn’t an easy exercise — neither intellectually nor emotionally. But it can be enormously valuable. And it can help satisfy one of Viktor Frankl’s most powerful imperatives: Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted wrongly the first time as you are about to act now.”

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